Monday, May 4, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 202

There are ups, and there are downs, and this week had both. On the down side was how the work week started, with an important meeting, that I called, and was over in a mere 25 minutes (you're welcome). Followed by something like four more meetings over the next day and a half about the same issue. The situation was (is) painful and risky. Fortunately by the end of the day Tuesday we had still maintained a high quality stance, so no bad decisions were made.

On the upside was my trip to Maine. We hit it out of the park! (Well, hopefully we didn't miss anything.) We went to learn, and we learned more than we expected. It was a successful and productive trip.

On the downside were the emails and phone calls that started circulating Friday as we traveled. Looks like some reactive traveling will be happening instead of the proactive traveling which is less stressful and far more fun. Thus is the nature of business.

I ran six miles in two runs and my left fibula is hurting again. I did 90 miles three weeks ago in 24 hours with no pain. I go and run four miles, and my leg hurts. Bizarre. Orthopedic doctor's visit scheduled for May 18th, yep, another two weeks. I do not enjoy being sedentary. I hate it.

Saturday I went up to Devil's Lake in Wisconsin to do some rock climbing. I top roped a 5.10a, Congratulations, which is apparently a classic, and I led the upper pitch of the "5.4" route the Pedestal, which is not 5.4. The grades at Devil's Lake are stout, harder than just about everywhere else. We had a campfire and hung out at the campground after we had sufficiently tired ourselves. For the record, five habaneros in one dutch oven of chili is too spicy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

I have a Medical Team

You must be your own health advocate. Except for your relatives, mainly your parents when you are young, and perhaps a friend or two, no one is going to be the advocate for your health. Thus I have a team. Sometimes I want to have a conference call with everyone so that they can all get the info and I go where I need to go to have the help I need to get healthy. It is frustrating because there is no one stop shop. Or at least I haven't met that person. 

While I titles this about myself, and my leg/fibula issue was the inspiration, I realized writing this that it is again not about me, it's about you. I see more medical professionals when I have a mysterious injury than many people in a year. That's great, hopefully you are all 100%. But when you aren't? Don't mess around, go get yourself looked at, and get a second opinion if you don't like what you hear. I for one refuse to accept "take six weeks off of running" the first time in an injury someone tells me that. Usually I ignore it the second time too. 

Point being, YOU can't fix everything yourself. I would know, I tried, but the internet is full of bad information. We call them professionals for a reason.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nepal is still Struggling

Nepal is mostly out of the news here in the US. Celebrities are back in the news and a few protests and arrests are making headlines. 

This is so typical. A tragedy happens in a very poor place and before it has much of any resolution, the rich countries move on. Prove me wrong.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 201

As life goes, sometimes it picks up. This past week ended up being a busy enough week. At work we ran into an issue, and it has no easy solution. Which means it ends up requiring quite a bit of time. I even worked a little on Saturday and Sunday thanks to this issue as well. One hard aspect of this is that designing out the issue would be challenging, or at least expensive. You know, work can take it out of me. I try to look at this experience, and work in general more as a learning experience, and to state the facts and let others make the opinions. When I offer an opinion it so commonly gets shot down or argued against. I'd like to make more decisions, and maybe I can, although it is difficult when I have the least seniority in the group. 

Running went wellish. I ran three times for a total of seven miles. Unfortunately my left fibula, which I ran 90 miles on two weeks ago without pain, started to hurt again. Great. So I'm working with some doctors to figure it out. 

Saturday morning my parents started texting me at 7 AM about the earthquake in Nepal. Wow! What a situation! I have to board a plane in five minutes, so this will be short. Dawa Steven Sherpa, head of Asian Trekking, is my best source for info. He is working with a Turkish rescue team and posting his resource needs on Facebook. Looks like diesel and satellite communications bandwidth are two things he could use right now. Everyone I know is safe except for one of my Sherpa friends. I assume he is simply out of communication range. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Some Days Are Harder

Nepal... What a tragedy. What a bad day. What a bad week. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Here's what I know, and it's not much:

  • An earthquake 7.5-7.8 magnitude, depending on the source, struck about 80 km (50 miles) north west of Kathmandu on the way to Pokara, a major city in Nepal, and thus a well traveled road. There were also a series of aftershocks, maybe even 15 of them up to a magnitude of 6.6. 
  • Confirmed dead is over 600 right now in Nepal and 700 total when you count India, China, and Bangladesh. 
  • There seemed to be avalanches on Mt. Everest both in the Khumbu icefall and on Pumori, the other side of the valley. All of the members of Asian Trekking are okay, and the China Tibet Mountaineering Association said that there are not reports of injuries or casualties on the north side of Everest. Apparently the Everest ER test was destroyed in an avalanche and Asian Trekking is functioning as triage center with Dr. Nima, who I will vouch for as an awesome man and very effective doctor, very busy. Dawa Steven Sherpa is in Kathmandu and he is my resource via Facebook.

Here is some background:

  • In 1934 Nepal had a similar 8.2 magnitude earthquake that did significant damage and killed over ten thousand.
  • In October 2005 in the Kashmir part of Pakistan there was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 80,000+ and displaced over two million people. I actually volunteered to go to Pakistan to use my mountaineering skills along with about 50 other mountaineers, some of them very big names, to access some of the remote locations that had been cut off from land slides, but ultimately governments and militaries stepped in to help and our little mountaineering band was deemed not necessary.
  • The Indian subcontinent is sliding up onto Asia, pushing the Himalaya higher, we all know this. Unfortunately plate tectonics don't always move nice and slowly.

Here is my speculation:

Given the poverty and ruggedness of Nepal I doubt most buildings there are built to withstand earthquakes. I also doubt that any numbers we are hearing in the media right now are accurate because communication is normally difficult due to the ruggedness in Nepal. And yes, while I imagine I could have done some good being over there in person and I have eagerly checked Everest updates this year as my friends go to camp one and two, I am rather happy this Saturday morning to be sitting in Dubuque, Iowa.

Friday, April 24, 2015

One Shot, One Opportunity

I'm going to Maine next week and I have to say I am extremely excited! I'm on a secret mission (or something like that) for work. It is a "mission" I have been lobbying to go on for the last 11 months and it's actually happening! The results of this short trip will be studied and direct quite a bit of my future work, as well as my team's future work. Point being, it's exciting. There is also some pressure to get it right. This is a one shot thing, and if we screw it up it will cost months of time and quite a bit of money. We're going to learn a lot!

Sometimes we only have one shot, one chance to get it right. Fortunately in things like long distance running or engineering that one shot might take a week of dedicated time or hours and hours of running, so it's not like one pitch in a baseball game, but the idea is the same. I try to take this attitude to most of the things I do. It's like 60% the next step, perfectly. It's why I kept walking for 10 painful hours at the 24 hour world championships, I don't know for sure I will get another chance, and I wanted to know I kept going and gave it everything.

When you give your best, you know there are no questions left at the end, that was your best. No one is perfect, and your best might not be as good as someone else's best, but if you really give your best, chances are you will be surprised how good that is.