Joseph McCray (@j0emccray) is someone who I have been listening to and watching videos of for a while now.  I first saw him at Defcon.  He is “The only black guy at security conferences”.  With the growth of the security industry, there are “experts” coming out of the wood work.  I had to put experts in quotes because it seems like everyone has an opinion.  There are more certification tags floating around tacked on to peoples names than I can believe.  In this world where everyone has gone through “training”, training to pass a test, it is hard to find the people that truly have a passion and dedication to true security.

So this comes to why I want to go.  For a while part of my job has been in security.  I have written policies to tell people what to do and what not to do.  I have help guide companies in “best practices”.  I have helped people gain access in to systems that they got locked out of.  And I have done more of the old school hacking.  This type of hacking involves taking things a part to see how they work and how they can be made better or defeated.  This is a lot of my daily job as a systems engineer.  Working in the corporate world has taught me that everyone sets things up differently and sometimes you need to reverse engineer how they configured things to know how to make it work.  So why would I want to go?  Because I don’t know enough.  There is so much out there that I don’t know.  Going over the list of topics that are covered strikes a little fear in me.  Topics like Metasploit, Maltego, Nmap, Nikto, IDS, HIDDS, NIDS, SIEM.  I will need a translator just for the names and acronyms.

This type of training is the type I truly enjoy.  You are completely immersed in to the training.  With you being away from work and in an environment with your peers and instructors.  You end of living the training and bouncing the ideas off each other.  While doing some activity, a conversation will strike up about a topic and you send the next hour working through ideas.  In the CyberWar class, you get to attack fully patched newer OS (Windows 7, Server 2008R2, and Linux) with all the intrusion detection tools turned on.  You get to see the logs and alerts that are generated.  You don’t just go and learn about tools, you learn why these tools work and what effect these tools have on the systems.  This is how training should be run!

Hacking In Paradise 2013

DEFCON 17: Advanced SQL Injection

DEFCON 18: Joseph McCray – You Spent All That Money and You Still Got Own

I love Splunk. The way it simplifies my job has been completely changed due to Splunk. The number one resource I use is the Quick Reference Guide. You can print one out and then it makes it easy to just quickly grab it to complete your searches. I don’t know how many times I have used it. I have worn out two of them.

I have stated on two different posts ( about starting a Splunk User Group in the Omaha/Lincoln area.  The first meeting will be on March 12th from 6pm to 9pm at Charlies on the Lake in Omaha.  Register for the event at

VENUECharlies on the Lake
4150 South 144th Street
Omaha, NE 68137
Website | DirectionsWHENTuesday, March 12th
6:00pm – 9:00pmAGENDA

  • What’s New in Splunk 5.0? Presentations by Splunk SEs
  • Open Forum

Splunk RSS Splunk Facebook Splunk Twitter Splunk LinkedIn

Hi There,Don’t forget to register for the Splunk User Group in Omaha on March 12th! We’ll get together to share ideas and learn from one other.Whether you are getting started, creating intelligent searches and alerts or building complex dashboards, this group is for you. Meet other Splunk users and get tips you need to be more successful.Click here to register. There is limited availability, so register today to secure your spot. Expect lots of discussion, snacks, drinks and, of course, t-shirts!

For any questions about this meeting, feel free to contact:
Mike Mizener
[email protected]

We look forward to seeing you!

The Splunk Team and Continuum


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I have been playing with the Arduino Uno board and after going through a bunch of tutorials, I wanted to branch out and do my own.  I have the Ultrasonic Module HC-SR04 and a standard piezoelectric buzzer.  On the ultrasonic module, VCC goes to digital pin 2.  Trig goes to digital pin 3.  Echo goes to digital pin 4.  GND goes to the ground rail which connects to GND pin on the arduino.  On the buzzer, the positive lead goes to pin 11 and the negitive pin goes to the ground rail which is connected to the GND pin on the arduino.    Below is the code:


void setup() {
 pinMode (2,OUTPUT);//attach pin 2 to vcc
 pinMode (5,OUTPUT);//attach pin 5 to GND
 // initialize serial communication:
 pinMode(11, OUTPUT); // sets the pin of the buzzer as output
void loop()
digitalWrite(2, HIGH);
 // establish variables for duration of the ping,
 // and the distance result in inches and centimeters:
 long duration, inches, cm;
// The PING))) is triggered by a HIGH pulse of 2 or more microseconds.
 // Give a short LOW pulse beforehand to ensure a clean HIGH pulse:
 pinMode(3, OUTPUT);// attach pin 3 to Trig
 digitalWrite(3, LOW);
 digitalWrite(3, HIGH);
 digitalWrite(3, LOW);
// The same pin is used to read the signal from the PING))): a HIGH
 // pulse whose duration is the time (in microseconds) from the sending
 // of the ping to the reception of its echo off of an object.
 pinMode (4, INPUT);//attach pin 4 to Echo
 duration = pulseIn(4, HIGH);
// convert the time into a distance
 inches = microsecondsToInches(duration);
 cm = microsecondsToCentimeters(duration);

 Serial.print("in, ");

 if (cm < 50) {
 else {
 digitalWrite(11, LOW);

long microsecondsToInches(long microseconds)
 // According to Parallax's datasheet for the PING))), there are
 // 73.746 microseconds per inch (i.e. sound travels at 1130 feet per
 // second). This gives the distance travelled by the ping, outbound
 // and return, so we divide by 2 to get the distance of the obstacle.
 // See:
 return microseconds / 74 / 2;
long microsecondsToCentimeters(long microseconds)
 // The speed of sound is 340 m/s or 29 microseconds per centimeter.
 // The ping travels out and back, so to find the distance of the
 // object we take half of the distance travelled.
 return microseconds / 29 / 2;

I sit here in an odd place.  I have been in to computers since the DOS age.  I was one of the little brats on the BBS (Bulletin Board Systems).  I found this world of computers fascinating.  My dad had computers at his office and the times I was able to tag along with my dad in to the office I did with an odd since of wonderment.  Here are these magical boxes that you gain knowledge and communicate with other people.  While I could be contempt to just play the games that were already there for me, I found that you could pull the game up in a hex editor and “look around” inside the programs.  While you didn’t get to see all of the code, you did get glimpses.  In my dad’s office, they started to secure their machines.  At each roadblock I found myself compelled to find a way to defeat the roadblock that was stopping me from access the information.  I would spend hours with my dad at his office trying to defeat the evil person blocking me.  I would always find a way around.  My president of the division my dad worked for was in the office late at night when we would go in.  He would “check in” on me every once in a while.  He would see me come in and he would smugly say they implemented a new layer of protection.  That is when I knew it was time to go to work.  I would bang on the system until I found a solution.  This is what was originally defined as a hacker.  I never caused damage to the system.  I knew that if I did cause damage that I wouldn’t be allowed to come back.  The president would check on me during the night.  As he would check on me I would be open and honest on my progress.  Once I would gain access, I would get to play on the internet.  He would check in and I would explain how I defeated their protection.  Unknowingly providing a service that back then really wasn’t done and if it was done wasn’t cheap.

Let me forward 20+ years.  I am working with people in their mid-20’s that have never known the world without the modern internet.  Virtualization is the preferred way of building servers.  They don’t know about shared time slices on big iron which is the first virtualization in computer systems.  I am 34 year old and a dinosaur of the times.  I am working with people that have never written a DOS Batch scripts, used a system without a mouse, or used a server that doesn’t have a GUI interface.  I recently installed a Windows Server 2008 R2 Core server and was flying around in the command line.  I have to say command line as the screen is a DOS emulator as it no longer truly exists.  All of the younger guys are in wonder why you would have a server with no GUI screen and they started debating the savings of memory.  While they talked about how they would manage the system, I fired up the VM and started installing.  I am setting up the server fiercely entering command after command.  While I do this I am documenting what I am doing on a notepad with a pen.  One of the people I am working with looks at me and asks “what are you going to do with that notepad?”  I looked at him and said that I was going to add that in to my notes for the build of the machine.  He looked puzzled.  While they looked for a tool to help configure the server, I turned to my old school methods and I am happy to say they still worked.

Items like this put me in a spot of contention.  While there are some people like me that like to say in the weeds with the technology, most people my age and older are forced to sit on the sidelines and manage.  If you are lucky enough to say working as an engineer or administrator, you typically are there to keep those old machines going.  You are in the endless maintenance routine.  You don’t get to innovate anymore.  So the question is, how to keep up with the technology curve, stay relative enough to have a meaningful work relationship with the all the generations, build yourself as a valued resource, and keep those career goal moving forward.

The easiest of those items was the first one, how to keep up with the technology curve.  This is something that should be in the basic fiber of being in IT.  We are the curious ones.  We aren’t just satisfied by given an answer.  We need to know the how and why something works and after we figure out how it works we think of ten different ways to improve it.  What I think the question we need to answer is do we still have the drive to follow the technology curve and ask the how questions or are we at the point where we are following the curve?  If we are just following the curve, maybe it is time to think about stepping to the side and giving that new people a front row seat as pushing the curve and you moving to the management or architect role guiding the newer person.  We were all there at some point or maybe we are still there.  Someone took the time to keep us focused on the task at hand.  They had to have a leach.  You need to be able to roam but pulled back when things needed done.  Giving that guidance is a critical role to helping shape how our departments and company work.  The tricky part is doing it in the right amounts.  Giving too much guidance tends to stifle the work atmosphere and is normally called micro-managing.  Being to lacks on guidance is seen as a lack of management and projects spin up and then get left by the side of the road because people felt like doing something else.  Giving the little nudges here and there and cracking the whip when things need to get done is a tough role to play.  This plays in to the building yourself as a valued resource.  With your experience you have learned some life lessons.  With those life experiences you have incite in to how the company works or how a particular industry is.  If you are the boss, a senior, or a lead, part or all of your job is to take the newer workers under your wing.  Notice how I say newer and not younger?  Your company might have hired someone that has been in the industry for a while to fill a need.  This could be for a senior level position or it could be for a specialized position.  An example of the specialized position is a developer with a skill set in an older program.  You two might be working together to convert that legacy application to a new platform.  Or you might be the person hired for their legacy knowledge of a system.  You will have to listen to a 26 year old who has been with the company since she was 18 tell you about the inner workings of the company.  In either role, you need to be a good team player and show why you still belong on the team.

As a manager of mine once said, “You all need to play nice in the sandbox.  I will provide the sand and the toys and you all can figure out who is playing in what area and with what toys.  Just keep this in mind, it is my sandbox and you all will follow my rules.  I expect you all to figure out how to solve your problems because if I need to step in the ruling will be quick and final.”  That leads in to one of the trickier areas, stay relative enough to have a meaningful work relationship with the all the generations.  For me, at 34 years old, I am not a party all night person either.  But on the other hand I am not in bed by 9pm and reading the obituary section of the paper.  While thinking about this I got to see a good reflection of who I was.  Coming in to the corporate IT work I was a very cocky know it all.  How my coworker didn’t smack me up side my skull I am not sure.  I know see the guidance piece of what I was talking about as they were constantly correcting my course to keep me on the right track.  I would start to spin off on something new and they would gently remind me of work we had to do.  Interfacing with younger coworkers in the father like figure is very understandable, but how to still learn from those old people in the office.  I mean, come on, they just need to retire.  The generation of worker above you always seem to be taking their time and they just sit there in the meetings.  They rarely speak and when they do I am not sure how much they really contribute.  They just seem to not get it.  They are asking a lot of dumb questions.  I was hoping for a Yoda or at least a Silent Bob type person that when they did speak these nuggets of knowledge would come flowing from them.  Stop for a second and listen to yourself.  Most likely that is what the younger generation always things.  Take that second to stop and listen to what they ask really asking and why they are asking those questions.  You might find that nugget of knowledge you are looking for.  Being submissive is not really a common trait of an inquisitive person.  Why tend to fight the mainstream and the authorities.  Make time to just talk and more importantly listen to those old guys and you might find yourself a Buddha  master that might happen to know the ways of the force.

Now the section I tend to find the most difficulty in, keeping those career goal moving forward.  Where do you see yourself in the next year, in 5 years, in 10 years?  I have enough trouble with what do you think you will be doing this afternoon?  You ask me that and I need to check my calendar, my ticket log, and my projects.  What I tend to do is to make a T chart.  I list out everything I like and dislike about my job as of that very minute.  For each of the dislikes I make myself explain why I don’t like it and what would need to happen to correct that.  After I have completed my T chart, I put it away for a couple day or a week.  When I come back to it I first examine the dislikes.  I see if those are still valid or was I just having a bad day or week.  Next I go over the like column and I explain to myself why I like that.  Now is the tough part of the process, look at the dislike column and ask myself if there is something I am doing that causes this.  You have to be honest with yourself.  You really don’t like calling yourself out on things and having to ownership of a bad thing, but it is needed.  At that point you can say I like this job because of X,Y, and Z but this job would be great if I didn’t have to do A, B, and C.  At this point you can take this list to your boss.  Again, you need to be willing to accept the truth from your manager.  Some of the A, B, and C could be what your job is and there is no way around it but this is a great opportunity to talk about the positions that contain all of most of X, Y, and Z but limit A, B, and C.  While it doesn’t answer the where do you see yourself in a time period directly, it gives you a chance to road map some ideas with your manager.

So while I still see myself caught between two different worlds, I don’t see it as a bad place.  There will be time to teach and times to be taught.  Maybe it is a time to talk less and listen more.  While I am not ready to have that big mug of black coffee sitting on my desk all day, a few red bulls doesn’t hurt.

Recently I shared that I was working with Continuum ( to start a Splunk User Group in the Lincoln/Omaha area (  Since then Mike Mizener ([email protected]) has found us a location and we agreed upon a first meeting day.  We will be meeting on Tuesday February 26th from 6pm to 9pm at Charlie’s on the Lake (  For this first meeting our topic will be: What’s new in Splunk 5.0.  More details coming but if you have ideas for topics or any other questions, please let me know.

I am currently working with Continuum ( to bring the Lincoln/Omaha area of Nebraska a Splunk user group. I am a big believer in the sharing of knowledge. With that I love to go on to the Splunk Answers site and review issues or questions people have and try to help them. When I was learning IT, someone took the time to answer my questions. I want to give back to the community that has taught me so much. This is where my sports life meets my geek life. I want to be that coach to help others get the most of IT. Look for more information shortly.

I have been going to the local YMCA over my lunch hour for lifting for the past 6 months.  I am starting to feel good again.  I have even started taking some supplements to help me feel even better.  A big shout out to the guys at Max Muscle for getting me the right supplements.  It is so nice to be able to go in to a shop that you would think is just full of meat heads and to hear exactly what each thing you are taking does to your body and how they react with each other.  In the past I have gone places and got the you need this as they plop containers of stuff in front of me and expect you to shell out money.  I have even had them tell me not to take something as they didn’t think I would get the results I wanted from it.  While I am not a small guy, I am not the biggest guy either.  I stand a whole 5′ 10″. I am not a runner so my idea of cardo is walking to the gym.  I like to lift large weights.  I never was the type to just go to the gym to tone out.  One of the programs I most enjoyed with a workout series titled “50lbs in 50 days”.  The goal was pretty simple, to put 50 pounds on your max bench press lift in 50 days. I went from 260lbs to 320lbs.  It wasn’t the easiest workout.  My lifting partner and I went to the gym at least 5 days a week for any where from 1 to 2 hours.

Workout Tracker:
JeFIT (free program to track workouts, design workouts, track body stats, etc.  Used to generate the following reports.)

Max Muscle 2TX
Max Muscle Max Pro Protein
Max Muscle Cleanse AND Lean
Starting Body Stats:

17.75 inches

50.5 inches

15.5 inches

47.5 inches

45.5 inches

12.75 inches

16 inches

41 inches

26.5 inches

 Lifting Stats as of 09/15/2012:

Progress Chart Barbell Bench Press – 289 lbs

Progress Chart Barbell Tricep Extension – 126 lbs

Progress Chart Barbell Bicep Curl – 126 lbs

Progress Chart Barbell Shoulder Press – 162 lbs


 Workout Log from 10/03/2012:

Dumbbell Incline Bench Press
90lb 1RM

Straight Arms Dumbbell Pullover
63lb 1RM

Dumbbell Fly
44lb 1RM

Cable Triceps Pushdown
245lb 1RM

Dumbbell One Arm Triceps Extension
42lb 1RM

Dumbbell One Arm Triceps Extension
39lb 1RM

Lawn Mower Start Lift
90lb 1RM

Standing Biceps Cable Curl
120lb 1RM

Lats Only Straight Bar Pull Up
6lb 1RM

In my life I had the opportunity for a lot of great coaches. There has been two that really stand out. The first coach got my going in the right direction. The second coach showed me just how far you can push yourself.

The Early Years:
My first year of wrestling was, well, a true test in perseverance. I don’t remember much of that year except a few thing.

  1. Bringing a book on wrestling moves to practice to teach myself some moves
  2. I cried a lot and my Dad had to convince me to finish out tournaments
  3. I lost every match

The next year my Dad took me to another club, the Lincoln Squires. This is the little kids club that was supposed to feed into the Lincoln Southeast High School program.  What a change.  The practice was structured and the very first night we learned things.  The head coach, Rik Gropp, made it a point to come and talk to me.  He explained how the practice works and introduces me to my drill partner for the day.  After practice Rik came up to me and asked me how I liked practice.  The true test came at the first tournament.  I got to the tournament nervous as in the past.  I haven’t had good luck in the past tournaments. I showed up and one of the coaches saw me.  He walked me to where we weighed in and then walked with me to our team.  I warmed up with the team and then the coach was there for each match.  I can’t remember how I did, but I do remember feeling that some was a lot different.  It felt like someone cared how I did.  I am sure that for my dad is was a relief that I wasn’t dreading matches and that I had some confidence.  Throughout the season I won and lost matches.  At one of the tournaments I walked off the mat happy that I won but I noticed my coach was jumping around and ran up and gave me a hug.  I thought that it was a little over kill for winning a match.  He looked at me and asked how it feels now that I qualified for Huskerland?  I look at him puzzled as I didn’t know what Huskerland was.  Huskerland is the end of year tournament for the top wrestler in the state to see who the best is.  It is equivalent of state in high school sports.  I am not sure how I did the rest of the year, but one thing I do remember is I liked wrestling.  I liked the fact that it was up to me to win or lose.  I couldn’t blame it on someone else missing their block or missing a shot.  Either I won or I lost.  The other thing I liked was the wrestling community was like a family.  I spent the next few years learning a lot of the fundamentals of the sport and being a good sport in winning and losing.  The way Rik coached was to make sure you understand the moves and why to use them.  He made sure that everyone understood that it was about the kids who were wrestling.  Rik and his coaches cared about each and every one of us.  We had a great understand of the sport.  If you won your match, you got a hug or high five and then a coach sat down and explained what you did right and what you need to work on.  It was the same if you lost.  This team was a family with coach Rik acting like another father and the other coaches as your big brothers.

Pushing it to the limit:
Entering high school I was faced with a new set of challenges.  The Lincoln Squires program did not feed in to the Pius X High School program and I had wrestled a few of the people on the team or their brothers.  I was a marked freshmen.  The coach we had was a good coach but wrestling wasn’t his love.  I was “hazed” daily by my teammates.  I remember being pinned to the mat before practice and getting titty twisters and forehead knocks.  One time I did stand up for myself.  I was getting chased around the room and finally I turned and punched one of the guys chasing me square in the jaw.  It stunned him but wasn’t enough.  I was grabbed by another person and thrown to the ground.  I was kicked and punched a few times.  I still struggled and tried to get away until CRACK, a broom was broke across my back.  In defeat I slumped to the ground.  The rest of practice the guys that were involved kept slapping me in the back where the broom left its mark.  This is in no way a reflection of the coach.  He did truly care for the well-being of the athletes.  I came in to wrestling freshmen year weighing 155lbs.  I wrestled at 152lbs, up from the 135lbs I wrestled at in 8th grade. .  I lost the 3 pounds easily throughout the practices.  I got on the scale on day and noticed I was 148lbs.  The next weight class was 145lbs.  I told the coach that I would like to wrestle at the 145 pound weight class.  He was concerned and required my dad to sign off on me losing the 3 pounds.  I went on to only lose 1 match freshmen year and had a lot of fun.  My sophomore year got my first taste of varsity matches.  I competed at 160lbs.  I went 0-4 on varsity but again had a fun year.

That summer we got to meet our new coach, Ted Witulski.  Right away I knew something was different.  He would allow us to come in and drill during the summer.  He couldn’t coach us, but if we asked questions about moves or techniques he would give us information.  Right away he asked about moves we knew and what practices were like.  He gave us his home number and told us we could call at any time.  Once school started he actively recruited people to come out.  He told them to give him two weeks and if they stuck it out for the two weeks and then wanted to quit, he would allow it and there would be no recourse.  If you quit before the two weeks, you were branded not tough enough for wrestling.  I am not sure how many people quit before the two weeks, I don’t think it was many, but our wrestling room was filled.  I once again wrestled at 160lbs after coming in about 180lbs from football.  Coach pushed and pushed our team.  There was no more goofing around during practice or at meets.  Practices were filled with non-stop action with coach jumping in to wrestle us and helping us break through the walls.  I remember practices where I just wanted to stop and rest.  Just about when I thought it was time for a break, we would start another drill.  I would come home from practice, eat something, do a little homework and crash at my desk with pen in hand and face in the book.  I wrestled varsity that year and made it through districts and almost made it to the medal rounds.  That summer I was able to go to a small wrestling camp.  I ended up hurting my left ankle on Wednesday and the Cornhusker State Games was on Sunday.  Pushing through the pain I was able to win the tournament.  My junior year was more than I could imagine.  I qualified for the state wrestling tournament coming just one match from qualifying for the medal rounds.  I was pushed farther than I thought I could, but this was just the beginning.

Senior year had started and while I played football, I couldn’t wait for wrestling season.  That football helped reaffirm one of the reasons I love wrestling.  If you want the varsity spot, you need to beat the person in the spot.  If you win, most of the time it is two of three matches, then you are the new varsity wrestler.  Unlike other sports where politics are in play.  I would get done with football practice and run up to the wrestling room to do some live wrestling with the coach and anyone else that was still there.  That year I was pushed to my limits and then beyond.  About half way through the football season coach Witulski asked how much I was weighing.  I answered that I was around 190-195 pounds.  Giggling he asked what weight I was thinking about wrestling at.  When I answered that I was planning on wrestling at 171 pounds, he started laughing.  Thinking out loud I said that I wouldn’t be very cut at 189 pounds so with a question in my voice I answered 160 pounds?  He responded with a yupe, better start that diet.  The next day coach found me in the hallway and gave me a diet sheet.  I looked it over and noticed that it was around 1200 calories.  As I was about to question the sheet he looked at me and told me you have to eat to lose weight.  Throughout that year I got lessons on diet, exercise, and just how the body handles weight cutting and nutrition.

The team that year was truly a family.  A few of us that had to on a strict diet would meet up in the wrestling room and have lunch.  I would occasionally meet with my classmates for lunch.  They would comment on my lunch.  They would often ask how could I stand being around all the fast food and still eat my celery?  I would just laugh and say just the smell from their food was going to make me over weight.  Few understood the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be a wrestler.  Wrestling season had started and I was pumped.  Coach pulled most of us that had a shot at varsity a side and preceded to let us know that if we really wanted to win, we could have no distractions.  He said something to the fact that focusing on school and wrestling would fill all of our time and attention.  Girls were just going to get in the way of things.  He joking said if it is true love, it will be there after the season.  It was time to focus on that one goal, winning.  Coach Witulski pushed us.  Practices became more and more intense.  It wasn’t just a coach standing by screaming.  He was there in the mix.  He showed us the path.  He was in the pits training with us.  He pushed us.  He showed us the path.  He didn’t just say do this one move and then do this other move.  He hung sheets of paper from the ceiling with different moves.  Each one of the sheets was a different color.  He could say work this series and you could just look up and know the moves to drill.  If you didn’t like doing a single leg tree top, you could work on a single leg running the pipe.  You controlled how you wanted to drill.  I remember practices were I didn’t ever think it was going to end.  Move after move, drill after drill.  Running the hallways to the point of physical exhaustion.  Then you would hear his voice from some corner.  “The mind quits before the body, push through it”, and we did.  The motto of being the most in shape is used by a lot of coaches.  Our team embraced it.  If your match stopped for whatever reason, you were right back in the center of the mat.  Once you were in ready position, then you could rest.  The reasoning’s behind it are simple.  To the referee it shows you are ready to continue the match and makes them wonder why the other person is not set and ready also.  It gets the referee thinking about give a stalling call.  To the opponent, it may be late in the match and both of you have been going like wild men.  You go out of bounds.  You look up trying to catch your breath and you see your opponent hustling to the center of the mat.  You start to get that little bit of doubt in you.  How can he be up and ready and I am laying here gasping for air?  Again, it is the mind pushing your body to do things most people wouldn’t be able to do, but to a wrestler it is just what it is.

Coach Witulski didn’t just change wrestling for us but for everyone in the school.  Most of the time for our home duals the stands were about half full.  It was family and some close friends that would come out and watch.  Our senior night dual was standing room only.  All of the bleachers were full.  The sides were packed.  They had to open the doors to the other gym to allow people to be able to see.  It was a tough duel.  By the time I was up we were down in the team standings. Coach stopped me right before I went on to the mat.  He looked at me right in the eyes.  He told me that my team was depending on me.  I needed a pin and that he needed me to go out there and get things done.  I nodded and took the mat.  The match was back and forth.  There was 40 seconds left on the clock, I was down my 4 or 5 points, and I was on bottom.  I remember looking up at coach and seeing the look of you can do better than this.  I just remember saying to myself no, this isn’t happening.  I trained to hard for this.  Hitting a hard switch I caught the guy off balance.  I was able to put him straight to his back.  With 12 seconds left in the match, I pinned him.  Our team went on to win the rest of the matches and to win the duel.  There are not a lot of matches I remember, but that is second most memorable match I had.

Shortly after this match was districts and then state.  I came off of districts only getting second.  The finals match is one of those matches we wish you could get back.  I had gone against this opponent earlier in the year and won.  That match really looked and felt like I wasn’t in the match.  But now it is state.  Time to put that match behind me.  I was one of the best 16 wrestlers in my class.  Here was my time to prove myself.  This is what I worked for, only to be caught in a move in my first match at state.  Thankfully to friends, family, teammates, and coaches I battled back.  I won my next two matches.  My fourth match of the tournament was against someone I hadn’t seen or really heard about to much except the fact he was an awesome takedown artist.  We went back and forth during the match.  This guy lived up to his takedown mastery.  Both of us were hitting moves and countering.  I remember my lungs being on fire and my muscles twitching with exhaustion.  As we battle through the third and final period, I get a reversal to tie to the match.  I glance over at the clock. 20 seconds left in the match.  I quickly do a self-inventory.  I haven’t been able to stop this guy’s takedown all match.  If I ride him out and we go to overtime, he has a major advantage.  I think that I could give up an escape but not give him enough room so that I have an easy take down.  With the clock ticking down, I let him up with having my hands near his knees.  I see the referee signal the escape.  I pounce across his legs snatching up his legs and driving across his legs.  As we both fall to the ground we hear the whistle from the referee for the end of the match.  I lay there gasping for air when I notice he was also still on the ground.  Who ever won this match made it to the medal rounds.  Almost at the same time we both looked up at each other and then to the referee.  We asked who won.  The referee looked towards my opponent and said he had won.  Either of us had the energy to celebrate or do be upset.  We helped each other up and shook hands.  We walked to the warm up area together.  We both collapsed on the mat.  During the next 20 minutes as I laid there talking to him and replaying the match over and over in my head, a smile came across me.  I had put it out there.  I went for it.  He was better that day.  I couldn’t find what I would have done different in that match that I would change.  I stood up, wiped a few tears from my eyes, gave my opponent a hug and wished him well in the rest of the tournament.  I walked up to waiting family, friends, and teammates.  Looking back, that was my defining match of my wrestling career.  I may not have been blessed with the god given talent as some, but I use every last bit of what I was given and worked my butt off to capitalize on that talent.  I earned my spot at the varsity table.  I competed against the best in the state.  I won some, and I lost some.  I walked away knowing just what I was capable of achieving.

To sum up what wrestling taught me, it taught me what life is about.  There are people who don’t try.  They don’t want to risk looking foolish for a chance at greatness.  There some are who flirt with a chance at greatness but find out that it takes too much.  There are a few that get tastes of greatness but don’t get to feel what it is like to stand on the podium with a medal around their necks.  There are a select few that have the natural talent but don’t push themselves.  They will get to stand at the podium but they won’t truly understand the meaning behind it.  One day they will look back and wonder what if.  And then there are a group that is singled out.  They have the natural abilities and yet look to push themselves farther than most people could even dream.  While they might not understand it, they are who inspire the masses.  Their drive and pushing beyond what is normal causes us dream of greatness.  And the greatest of all these groups are the coaches that push us no matter what group we are in.  Either you are like myself who got just the tastes of greatness but didn’t get to stand on the podium, or you are like my brothers who pushed themselves beyond what most people see as possible, or if you are Jordan Burroughs who inspired a nation with his gold medal matches at the 2012 Olympics, there is always a coach.  They sit on the sidelines letting us get the glory.  They silently celebrate with us.  They cry over every defeat.  If you watch a coach on the side of a mat, you will notice him bending and moving his body as he goes through every move you do.  Wrestling takes boys and makes them men.  Wrestling take girls and makes them women.  You win, you lose, you struggle, and you overcome.  Wrestling isn’t just about two physically fit people in a circle trying to oppose their will on the other.  Wrestling is won days before the match.  It is the 5am runs during the summer.  It is going to that summer camp where you train 12 to 14 hours a day while your classmate sit beside a pool.  Although in your match, it is you against someone else, you know that the people on your side of the mat have your back.  You know because they shared their blood, sweat, and tears with you.  And thanks to wrestling, I know who I am and just what I am capable of doing and that it is more than most.

I recently spoke at the Splunk>Live Kansas City conference.  I was one of three speakers giving their user experiences working with Splunk.  The speakers along with two other guests also sat in a Q&A session over lunch.  I also had the chance to have dinner with a few of the people that work with Splunk.  I enjoyed speaking with the Splunk employees and other people interested in the Splunk product.  I wish I would have had someone record the talk I gave but I have included the slides below.