Friday, February 5, 2016

No! I don't want to go to sleep!

It's funny, growing up. There is no magical day when you are suddenly more grown up. Birthdays help reinforce how old we are and perhaps encourage us to act our age. Funny story, sometimes in the evenings it's early, before 8 PM and I feel like I am fighting myself to go to sleep. I am exhausted, but going to sleep before 8 PM seems ridiculous! So like a whining child I find something else to do, at least until 8, then I can go to sleep.

For the record, maybe once a month or so I do actually go to sleep before 8 PM. It first happened about three years ago, and it is more common now.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

You Don't Know the Future.

Of course, I don't know the future either. I have been thinking about my future a lot lately, as you would know if you read my blog. One thing that has stuck out to me is how we don't know the future as well as we think we do. In other words, I can imagine my life one year, even six months from now, but chances are I will be wrong about something. 

I get so much stuff wrong. It frustrates me. And the future... I'm not sure you can get it right. No, I don't think you can. There is always something to have missed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Am I Scared?

Am I scared of staying in one place? Am I scared to take relationships to a deeper level when I could just leave? Is moving a way to avoid conflict? 

Yes, yes, yes. I just don't get it, living in one place. It's so hard to describe. Here is an interesting article:

I'm not military, but my family moved seven times between my birth and high school graduation. That's five school districts, six schools, five states, all before I had a chance to direct my own travel plans. Then I did some more traveling and living in various places. The concept of committing to a place for my whole life, it's bizarre to me. Moving so much I learned that it's about the people. I can be be happy anywhere because there are positives and negatives to every place, but it's always the people that make it memorable, that we cry over. I may talk of mountains and trails, but that's because it's easier than describing how I miss my friends. 

I don't know what else to say. I feel like staying in one place is a skill I should try to learn. Yet the rate of learning about the new place slows and an opportunity elsewhere beckons, and it's hard to say no! 

I texted a legit military brat I used to hang out with and climb with about my feelings and he said, "If things slow down and you start to get depressed the urge to pick up and leave kicks in" and it hit me like a brick. I've been injured in my running for a long time, I've been traveling a lot for work the last few months, often last minute, and since I am not coaching any more I have more free time, alone. I can't believe I share this stuff on the Internet. But I say it that others might learn from my experience, and perhaps short cut some of the lessons that take me a long time to learn. 

You haven't heard the end of my thoughts on this.

Monday, February 1, 2016

I Live in Iowa: Week 240

This very long week started off in Germany, sore from skiing in Austria. After a short run my friend and I went on an English speaking tour of Dachau concentration camp just outside of Munich. I need to write a post about that separately because it's important. If we don't remember history we are doomed to repeat it. In fact, the upcoming generation, they are too young to personally know WW2 veterans, because most veterans are dead, so there is, in my opinion, greater danger of the world being susceptible to something similar again. The problem with history is that the relevance fades with every generation. I'm getting ahead of myself, another post.

Work went quite well. On Monday I was in Passau visiting our supplier, and learned a few key pieces of information, which explain why we have been having some of the failures we have been having. It was a nice visit. Overall the company is extremely good, that's why we use them.

Tuesday was a flight back to the US, and then the rest of the week I worked in the office. Part of the time with SAP, which I already mentioned I am not a fan of because it confuses me.

Running is on the upswing, which these days I worry is as good as it gets. I ran 55 miles, running all seven days. No workouts but a nice 14 mile long run at a decent pace. Oh it feels so good to run lots of miles. Unfortunately time spent running, or running miles, is a way I feel more comforted and validated by my training.

I spent a few hours on Saturday at my friend's house bouldering, and helping him make the bouldering cave bigger! It's pretty awesome, the kind of thing I wonder if I should have bought a house five years ago and done the same thing.
Building a Bouldering Gym

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scared of Turning 30: Part 3

Should I leave Dubuque?

Every few months one of my friends leave, and about once a year it is one of my closer friends. The conversation recently among a few of my friends has been that it may be time to leave. We've been here some time, and while life is good, that's why we are still here, there is more to the world. In fact we all all agree that us being here is a big part of why each one of us have stayed this long.

When I came here in the spring of 2011, I thought that my life would go one way, car, house, wife, stability, etc. I didn't voice it, or even articulate that in my head, and had you asked me I would have said that Everest was a higher priority in the short term than those things, but the way I acted that first year in town was certainly one of looking to settle down. Then those relationships didn't really work out, and I grew caught up in coaching, running, mountain climbing, work and now here I am nearly five years later, living in the same apartment, with nearly the same hobbies, making some more money but not tremendously more, and I've never had an actual promotion. What happened to the time?

It's not that Dubuque is bad, on the contrary, it's pretty awesome. For a runner like myself the Mines of Spain and Heritage trail are great facilities! Part of my wanderlust is that I have been here almost five years, and the longest I have ever lived some place is six years. What is home? I will never spend another night in any of the houses I grew up in. Sometimes I feel like life is a one way street, you get to live it once, no u-turns. Perhaps life is more like a jet plane, no reverse, but you can cover a lot of ground going forward. People put a lot of value into sunk costs, those things they have already put time and effort into, while undervaluing the opportunity cost of not taking new opportunities. Making the decision, by not making a decision to pursue new options, sinks more cost into the current situation, and gives up what opportunity may exist in the new endeavor. It's why I keep climbing mountains, what might happen is well worth the time, money and effort I put into it.

At the moment I am being recruited by a different division in my company for a promotion to move to another state. It is an honor to be recognized as a strong candidate for this position. I've been recruited for promotions in the past, but unfortunately they were not in areas that excited me much. While I am on the topic of career, I have realized that responsibility, and authority, do not directly correlate with pay grade. In general they do, but a grade to two grades often means little in terms of actual authority.

I heard once that if you stay five years you are more likely to stay for a very long time. Strangely I feel like I am making that a reality. Am I committing to Dubuque indefinitely? It feels like if there is a time to move, it might as well be now. I don't know.

I don't know. Those sunk costs are really emotional! And opportunity costs are so intangible, we don't know the future.

Friday, January 29, 2016


Stop All Production

SAP is a business software that accountants seem to like because it allows tracking of everything. Engineers don't really like it because it seems like we have a whole bunch of clicks to define something we would otherwise prefer to use words to describe. I get that learning is a life long process, it's the title of my blog! Yet I spent most of my day messing around in SAP, and let me just say, it was not a very productive day.

Being a product engineer these last couple years has given me a new appreciation for design and change control. How do you track what is physically necessary for the machine? How does something go from a drawing on a computer to a physical part in a final product? It's a billion dollar question, and SAP has taken a big chunk of that. It just seems so complicated. A part should have two states for the design engineer, in work, and published. You could extend that to the other 15 people in the chain, manufacturing engineer, supply management, accounting, parts catalog, either they are working on it, or it's locked down (or rejected back to the start if there is a problem).

I should start a software company.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I Live in Iowa: Week 239

Well, I was hardly in Iowa this week, but I wasn't in one constant place all week, a total of four different hotels, so I'm claiming Iowa. Plus, it's hard to be a resident of a country when you speak so little of the language.

Monday morning, instead of a national holiday, I traveled to Chicago in the -21C or -4F weather for a flight to Germany. These flights are the hardest. You take off in the afternoon, and arrive in the early morning, having barely slept at all are thrust into another day, except this day in my group we are expected to work. Thank God for coffee!

Tuesday afternoon was full of a technical meeting, and dinner with our hosts. It was actually one of the more productive and attentive first days I have had in my three trips to Germany. Maybe I'm getting used to it.

Wednesday we had more meetings, and then traveled north to Erlagen, for meetings on Thursday and Friday. The itinerary for this trip was complicated. People from three countries attended in person and there was a different group of people at the discussion every day. It was pretty great actually. I was afraid that this was going to be the beginning of the end, but the more we talked and toured, the more confidence I have in our partner's capabilities. Sure, there are still challenges, but we are more on the same page than not on the same page.

Friday afternoon, as we made our way back to München I drove and both of my supervisors took some rest, and I managed to get up to 142 mph, they were awake at that point. The thing about the Autobahn is while you can theoretically go really fast, and people do go over 200 mph on occasion, most of the time there is so much traffic that doing 100 or 110 mph is about all you are going to do. Once you get to 120 mph, around 200 kph, you will inevitably end up stuck behind someone going 90, and at that speed you have to hit the brakes when there is still 200 meters between you and the other guy.

Saturday I took advantage of my first ever free weekend in Europe to go skiing in the Alps. Specifically I skied at Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser starting from Söll, Austria.
Somewhere in Austria
An Actual Igloo Behind Me
My coworker gave me a ride to the ski resort, about a 2 hour drive in a snow storm. Then I took a bus, a train, and two subway trains, plus some walking, to get back to the hotel in a four hour phone free extravaganza. We depend on our phones so much for navigation these days, I enjoyed doing things the old fashion way without international service on my phone turned on.

Overall a poor week of running. Two days off and only 24 miles total, but I did bike on one off day and skied until I was exhausted (5 hours) on Saturday. Still a good week, I don't seem to be injured, my hip is not healed 100% yet, but it's coming along.

It was a good week.