Friday, September 19, 2014

Food Preperation for a 24 Hour Run

How do you prepare food to run for 24 hours? Good question but here most of what I plan on bringing.
16 Gatorades, Oranges, Bananas, Blueberries, Coconut Waters, Pomegranate Juice, Protein Shakes, Pickles, Half a Pound of Pastrami, and Enough Starbucks for a Typical Week
Salt and Carbs, with a little Protein
The most important things I'm looking for are sodium and potassium, salts basically. After that, I know I will need lots of carbs. Finally, I have some protein, ranging from strait sliced pastrami to energy bars. The coolest thing about a 24 hour run on a 0.9 mile loop is that on every lap I can have my own personal aid station. I don't know what whims and cravings I will have after 16 hours of running, so I figured, bring everything. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meetings Have Two Purposes

Share information and/or make decisions.

A meeting can have both purposes, but if it has neither, and especially if is has neither and is recurring, cancel it.

More meetings do not more productivity (or more respect) make.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

There are no Women in Dubuque, I have evidence

The City of Dubuque publishes deomgraphic information. It's not good for a single 20something male. For the record, the title is a lie in the strictest sense, an exageration of the competition of 525 men for 300 women.

Say 60% of women 25-29 and 50% of 25-29 men are married, another 25% of each are in a relationship, that leaves about 525 single men and 300 women. I made the percentages up of married and dating up, but they seem realistic considering age at first marriage for women and men. However, those are 2010 numbers. What has changed since then? Oh, my employer went on a engineering hiring spree and hired maybe 200 new engineers fresh out of college, maybe 85% male. So in the last four years I don't think the ratio changed to be more even.

Now I'm not saying there are no single women in Dubuque. In fact, I know a few nice single ladies. Plus, I work with quite a few people that date people from other cities and states, so it's not like anyone is locked into people from only Dubuque. Frankly, I don't find this upsetting actually, I find it more amusing. Where are all the men that the educated women can't find? Dubuque, Iowa.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 11th, 2001 for Me

On Patriot Day, September 11th, My sister, who was traumatized by the twin towers falling asked me if I ever wrote about September 11th? I said no, because my experience was just like everyone else's, and so many people had a far more interesting story to tell. But seeing as how sometimes I search for something to write about and as I thought about how the experiences I had leading up to and after 9-11-2001 I realized, it might as well be told.

I first heard of the towers incident during break, about 9:15 AM on Tuesday, roughly the fourth week of school my sophomore year of high school. I didn't believe a plane crashed into the towers, it was unbelievable, especially because I had gone up in one that summer. Later in the morning it was announced over the school speaker system, this really happened. Finally my last class of the day, fourth period, about 1:40-3:00 central time, was world history or current events with Mr. L. The two social studies teachers had adjoining rooms and it was the first time I remember them removing the collapseable wall to have both classes sit together. They both spoke for a few minutes, then we watched CNN for an hour. There was nothing to say, except this wasn't an accident, and we would all remember this day.

This was close to home for me because in May and June I believe that summer my family had taken a 17 day road trip from Kansas to the east coast, hitting up everything from Antietam and Gettysburg to The New York Stock Exchange and fresh lopster in Maine. In New York City we did it all, in about two days. We had pizza a block away from times square at a tiny little authentic New York Italian pizzeria. We watched the traders on the floor of the NYSE. We went to Battery Park, we waited three hours to get to the top of the Statue of Liberty, only to be yelled at 10 seconds later for taking too long by the person who was one minute behind us in line. Then we went to Ellis Island. We even rode the subway into NYC, and had a nice man talk to us for ten minutes while waiting for the train and suggest things to do, because we stuck out as tourists. We had Chinese food in Chinatown, and had a young waiter hover over us the whole meal! We rode a New Jersey cab back to our hotel in Newark, just to hear the accent. And of course, I think at my insisting, we went into the World Trade Center towers because they were taller than the Empire State Building and we only had time for one tall building.

I remember it was expensive to take the elevator up, and my parents discussed if it was worth it. The lower first three floors of the building were all one floor with high ceilings and the design of the buildings was just fantastic, lots of natural light was coming in at the bottom of this 110 story builging. Finally we boarded the elevator for the three minute ride up to the top, complete with a tour guide. It was cloudy, misty and windy by the time we got up there in the afternoon, so we were not able to go up to the top and walk around outside, which was a pretty big dissapointment to me. We walked around the top floor of the tourist floor one time, I think I bought a pressed penny as that was what I collected when I was younger. I still have them all somewhere. The shops were all quiet, like an airport in the off hours, nice small expensive shops, the kind my family (or at least I) didn't really feel comfortable in because we couldn't afford anything in them. I like to push myself and I remember walking right up to the glass and looking down, having to force myself to do it of course because it was so high! We could also see the statue of liberty from then when the clouds parted a little. When we walked to the corner where the two towers came together the wind was whipping them closer to each other and farther away, a noticible difference of a few feet. That was a little scary!

Quite certainly, someone that was on that floor in June while we were there was certainly there on September 11th. Although, we were there in the afternoon and retail shops sometimes don't open until much later in the day, and it was school season, so I imagine that there were fewer people there from a tourist industry point of view.

This was more traumatic for a lot of people than for me. For that, we need some background. In the summer of 1995 my family moved to Oklahoma. It's barely a footnote now, but the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was a big deal! It was on the news all the time. On top of that, sometime in the school year of 1995-1996 on a Cub Scout trip, or maybe even a school trip, we went down to Oklahoma City to spend the night in the Science Center, and on the way back we stopped at the bombing site. The building was gone by then, but all the surrounding buildings were still vacated (although it was a weekend) and missing windows. I distinctly remember we parked on a lot across the street from the Murrah Building site, a dirt patch, not a paved parking lot. The building was missing windows and you could look in and see the desks and papers scattered around everywhere. There were some black computer keys which were just outside the building and I picked up a couple. They are likely still at my parents house if they haven't been thrown out yet. The kind of memento that will get thrown away some day because a couple dirty black computer keys have no meaning to anyone but me. I remember all the people that died and were injured and visiting the site when it was quiet and deserted, and seeing how I, as a nine year old could walk up to the building across the street that was heavily damaged and pick up something damaged in the blast. It was strange to me how something so famous, on the national news so often, was just a place, that I could visit and take away a piece of.

I remember at the one year anniversary my classmate Shawn (I have no idea where he is now, so I'll use his full name) had an aunt or some relative that was wounded or maybe even killed, I don't remember what exactly, in the blast. Our whole elementary school went out to the flagpole and stood in a circle and held hands, I don't remember if we prayed, probably, but we had a moment of silence and I was beside Shawn as he cried during the moment of silence. I don't remember saying anything or trying to comfort him, but I remember thinking how much more serious the event was for him and his family than for me. It puts the whole event close to home. I have mementos from the bombing site, I have a friend's family member directly affected by the blast, it was my first experience of tragedy.

Similarly during that time there was the OJ Simpson murder trial and the Bosnian conflict, the world seemed like a place where murders happen and wars are fought.

Later, when I was in seventh grade the Columbine high school shooting happened. I distinctly remember that I went to track practice, went home to eat, heard about the shooting on the evening news for the first time, then went back to school to present our country project, mine was Russia, and the shooting was all everyone could talk about when we got back to school at 6 or 7 PM to display our projects since we had all only heard about it after we left school or track practice. That hit home for me in a couple ways. The teenage mind is not a pleasant one. I can understand how people get made fun of for such a long time, get rejected and lose hope. Even I, how many times in the past did I think, 'I'll show them, one day.' What did that mean? I don't know, I have a couple engineering degrees, I run fast, I go on 8000 meter expeditions. I think in my own way I have "shown them" although it is really about showing me what is possible more than being anything to anyone else. Side note, one of my friends here in Dubuque left his old job four years ago and a couple months ago, his old job had a shooting where a guy he knew went in and shot another guy he knew.

Later, working a summer camp job in Colorado my roommate for the summer was a year older than I and went to Columbine high school the year after the shooting. They did a lot of work to clean up the school and had lots of mental health councilors on hand, otherwise, it seems for him, the world moved on. Certainly that memory doesn't just go away, but life goes on, and you still have to write essays in English class.

I think for me, Columbine started to really make me aware that how I treated people, all people, not just the ones I wanted to impress, but the outcasts, loners, and uncool kids could make a difference in their lives. Oh certainly, I'm no saint, or even decent friend. But perhaps I listened, or didn't say anything demeaning. As I write this my conscious is saying to me, 'you liar! You did nothing, NOTHING! to help the less fortunate. How dare you exalt yourself?' So the truth is, I'm no better than the bullies. Yet Columbine did help me see the danger in bullying, and it's all part of the process of maturing and trying to be better today than I was yesterday.

So by the time 2001 rolled around, it was hard to believe, but I had seen enough tragedy, that very quickly I knew, yes this is the world we live in. The aftermath was particularly interesting for me. I was 15 when it happened. I was running my first season of cross country, oddly enough I started tracking my monthly mileage latter that month, and have been for 13 years now. The life of a high schooler is focused on activities, sports, musicals, girls (at least for most boys), driving, school, and the intensity of the here and now.

The events of the World Trade Center Towers also had a profound effect on my political outlook at the time. Former President Bush is lambasted now for his comments about people returning to shopping, but at the time it was very relevant because the .com bubble was burst and we were into a recession, that I understand now had nothing to do with September 11th. I do remember the NYSE being closed for several days after 9-11 and when it did open finally, it dropped a fair amount. The chart of his approval ratings are incredibly interesting, over 90% at one point! In the fall of 2001 and early 2002, this country was more unified than any other time I can remember. In 2004, I voted for Bush for President because I thought, 'we need to finish what we started in Asia.' It wasn't for me about economics at the time, or social issues, or global warming as my vote may be directed today, it was about people that attacked our country, and had not been caught yet, and I thought the incumbent would be the best guy to keep up the job.

The connections to 9-11 continue to this day. In college I stayed at a friend's house in Dracut, Massachusetts in 2005 and he lived just down the street, it seemed half a mile, from one of the pilot's houses. The pilot, John Ogonowski, had a small farm with a red barn, and standard two foot tall stone wall, it appeared maybe 5-10 acres, but with New England trees, I really have no idea. When we drove past on the way to the Boston airport it was quiet, I didn't see any cars or people moving around early that Saturday morning. Seeing the pilot's house down the street from my friend's house again brings it all home, this is real, this is the world we live in, this quiet upscale neighborhood outside of Lowell, has the chance for someone to be killed in a major international event, at his day job.

Even today, in little old Dubuque, Iowa, I know a man in town, one of the ones that hugged me after I returned from Everest this year, who's sister died on Flight 93 I believe, one of the flights at any rate. Here we are away from it all, and this man's sister died on 9-11. He has three sons, and the one oldest one would have been too young to remember her because he would have been maybe two or three at the time. I almost got him into running a couple years ago because he had (and I think still has) some interest in doing the New York City Marathon as a way to remember her.

There you go, a moderately in depth look at what September 11th, 2001 has meant to me through the years. This will sound crazy, but I would like to visit Afghanistan some day for a mountaineering expedition. It's not very climbed out, lots of new route potential, 7000 meter peaks. The problem is it's not quite as safe as a place like Pakistan, so I haven't planned a trip yet, although my presence could I hope develop better relations between the west and the locals if I did go. That is how I feel we must act, proactively and positively despite lacking 100% confidence in our safety, because there is no 100% chance for our safety. In the words of FDR, "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Live in Iowa: Week 169

Another good, and fairly average, week. It's funny, so we have processes at work, and when you get each little project to a certain stage it is usually a celebration. Well this past week I managed to get a lot of projects to that stage, but it became less of a celebration and more of a simple relief. I didn't even send out a celebratory email on Friday for any of the things I passed onto the next stage of development.

The insight from that is as it often happens, we, or at least I, build up what "must" be done and work at it and struggle on it and wrestle with it, until finally, it's done. It's like a company going public and having an IPO. Many of the original people that started and built the company into what it was leave because in many respects, they did it, they built the product they set out to build. A coworker made the joke as I walked out Friday, "take the next month off." So I responded with, "I'll see you in October." We both had a little laugh about that. Yet the way things work, I am actually looking at doing some "odd" jobs at work over the next two months because I will not have the normal volume of my normal responsibilities. Oh don't worry, you'll hear about it.

Running went great! I ran 83 miles, taking Monday fully off, and not doubling once. Pretty surprising to myself, 83 miles in singles, in six days, without any trouble. That's a good sign. Training is going well. Tuesday I even ran a 12 mile tempo at 6:05 pace, and added a little over a mile on to get a half marathon in 1:20:57. When I put down tempos like that, and then recover so well, I feel so blessed. I just ran faster than 97% of half marathoners, in a workout, on a Tuesday, after a full day of work. I don't take that for granted, because I know that it will probably not always be that way for me.

On the social side I went to dinner Thursday night with two of my Indian coworkers and Saturday went to a pork roast down in LeClaire, Iowa at another coworker's house. I won't say that I was particularly social in either case, but I had a few good conversations, it was well worth it for me to get out of my apartment a little and talk to people.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How do you Develop Toughness?

At 6 AM this morning I saw a high school cross country team out running on the coldest morning of the last four months. I've learned enough to know over the years morning runs (in addition to afternoon runs) are probably only beneficial for 10% of high school students physiologically. The reason they don't get much benefit is they don't run enough in the afternoon to start. However, there is a very real benefit mentally from waking up at 5 AM or 5:30 AM and going for a run before the rest of the world has gotten up. At least there is a benefit for a high school student, the benefit seems to fade once you get out of college.

I don't have the answer to this question. I think much of toughness is internal, that is to say it is very difficult to teach another person. This is just a thought to ponder, I may follow this up with more thoughts, but no guarantee.
Trail Running Make-Up from Last Night at the Mines of Spain

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Old Car Repair Costs

Well my radiator is shot, plugged and leaky. So I'm paying around $500 to have the thing replaced. Gerr... Old cars repairs are expensive!

It's Nearing Antique Status...
Drove home Tuesday night and as I was walking up the stairs heard dripping. Oh no. So I go back and sure enough, something under the hood is leaking. So I start looking under the hood and see the spray from what is probably a pin hole leak, although I can't see the hole. I put some cardboard down to soak up the mess. Then I take the plastic air intake manifold off to try and get a better view, but by that time it quit leaking. So I filled the coolant up with water, start the engine and run for a few minutes trying to see it leak, but it wasn't leaking. Regardless I spilled enough antifreeze I set up an appointment with my local mechanic for Wednesday. It didn't leak all night and I didn't overheat on the way to work. Things seemed to maybe have fixed automatically? (It's actually possible considering heat expansion and contraction or debris in the coolant.) Well no, When I drove from work to the shop in the afternoon my fan belt was slipping when I accelerated away from a stop light, and that's right where it was spraying Tuesday night. I get to the mechanic and 30 minutes later they come back with the $450 or so quote to replace the radiator and other trinkets in the area. I was distraught. I thought, 'now I have to go buy a new car!'

So I go home, driving the loaner Chevy that Meineke lent me, looking at loans, interest rates, payments, different cars, all requiring hundreds of dollars per month for years! So I happened to look at my mint.com account, for my mechanic, Meineke, which has done a number of $500 repairs for me the last few years such as brakes, catalytic converter, and exhaust system pipes. I was quickly surprised how little my repair costs actually have been. In total over the last three years only about $3,000 rounding up. Not shown in the repair costs below are new tires, new rear shocks, a few oil changes done in person or paid in cash, or of course this week's repair. While $3,000 is significant, it is far less than the price of a new car. Given that math, it is costing me roughly $85 a month in repairs and oil changes to keep my old van, and only $45 in insurance per month. I realize that is still more than many people can afford, but compared to the hundreds of dollars my friends and coworkers pay for new cars and new car insurance, I'm keeping the van!

Three Years of Repair Costs
I'm up to over 317,000 miles on my 1993 Toyota Previa, and turns out replacing a radiator is not out of the ordinary for old cars. For the forseeable future I'm going to keep the old thing. Let's just say that a car payment would be $400 for 3-5 years depending on what kind of car I get. I can tolerate a lot of repair costs for $5,000 a year. Plus, insurance on new cars is significantly higher than on old used cars. In short, the math, at least this month, and over the last seven years of driving this old van are clear. (I had fewer repairs the first four years I drove it than in the last three years.) Driving an older car is a better investment, if any car can actually be called an investment and not only an expense, than buying a much newer car.