Monday, March 14, 2011

The Life of a Contract Engineer: Week 7

Seven weeks! It is still surreal that I have the opportunity to go to work and get paid for doing something that I enjoy. I spent the majority of my week learning how to use HyperMesh, which is part of the HyperWorks finite element suite. This is the third finite element software that I have learned. First it took me a year (working part time) to understand Abaqus and DANTE, then it took me a month to understand ANSYS and in less than a week using HyperMesh I have made significant progress. I now feel more valuable as a finite element engineer than I ever did in graduate school. I just need CATIA and NASTRAN to round out my repertoire and I'll be more qualified than most of the tech support for all of those companies.

Secondly at work, I enjoy the people I work with. I think that is an important factor. I have never really been in a bad working situation, but I can imagine and I have heard stories. Even five minutes of socializing with my coworkers per day is a nice mental boost.

My running injury just took a ginormous (that is an actual word!) leap forward! I went to a massage therapist and had fingers and thumbs pressed into my knots to the point that I was in significant pain and the knots started to release. I continued to do my exercises and I even bought a foam roller so that I could work on rolling out my tight muscles. In total I ran about 77 miles including a 3.3 mile tempo at 5:54 pace and a 12 mile and 10 mile run at 6:55 and 6:50 pace respectively. Those are three very pleasing runs compared to the amount of pain that I was in for two weeks.
Foam Roller
In other news I started an account with at the recommendation of a friend who is traveling in Laos right now. It is pretty cool. It updates all of my account information every time that I log in so that I can see how my net worth or paying off my loans is going. I am worth negative tens of thousands of dollars. That's old news, but it's nice to see it change for the less negative. For me simply seeing the numbers helps me make the numbers a little less terrible to look at by applying money where it makes the most difference.

Additionally relating to money, I've done some reading about history and it is not that hard to make substantial profits in the stock market. From a mathematical point of view there are a number of quarterly published variables which indicate that certain stocks are worth more than the price that you have to pay for them. It's not physics, so you will not get the same reaction every time. However, it is statistics, and if you play the numbers in enough quantity for long enough, according to the history of the stock market, you will make money. I'll write more on that in the future.

I hit a deer with my van. It has a huge dent in it and I would take a picture except that it's dark out right now. I'll do a post about the six accidents I have had in the last nine years.

Finally, in news relating to the book I am writing, I passed 48,000 words and 100 pages this week. That's 100 pages of single spaced writing with only four pictures and four pages of contents and title stuff. I am very excited about how well that is going. Although, I don't have an agent, much less a publisher, and I have not done any speaking engagements yet. So I have a long way to go, but I feel I am on the right path. My goal is to have a rough draft finished in the next few weeks. I do not have too much more left to add. I am sure that things that I have written thus far could be a huge help to others in their early 20s tackling unemployment, underemployment and misemployment.

Oh and one more note along the investing lines, about a year ago I solicited investors for Janzen Gear. I had a few bites but did not reel in the kind of investor that I was looking for. I am thankful that I did not find an investor at that point in my life. I learned a lot about product costs and failure. The hangboards are a much better situation. I am able to fund the costs out of my own pocket, and thus will put all the profits back into my pocket, or rather into manufacturing more. This product has a much greater ability to generate profits from batch one (ten hangboards). The ice axe would require huge batches (hundreds and ideally thousands) and even lower profit margins (although not much lower) and required safety testing. I just did not understand all of those challenges a year ago, yet it makes a huge difference in business. Also, running this as my second job allows me to think small. I am not relying on Janzen Gear to pay my bills. It allows me to deal in smaller volumes with lower profits than the big boys. Which means a high value product for the price and the prestige of limited quantities.


  1. Could you email a few recommended links for learning about the stock market? cooperbest at gmail dot com

  2. Actually I'll post some here in case anyone else wants to know.

    Hands down the best free resource is this value investing guide by a bunch of guys that made millions of dollars. They didn't do it overnight, but they sure got it done in a few decades.

    Additionally, Warren Buffett (annually one of the three richest people in the world for a long time now, owns most of Berkshire Hathaway and his essays describe some of his thought processes.

    Finally, I just finished reading The Little Book that Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt. It's not free but considering that my very very meager portfolio fluctuates by $10-$40 per day spending $14 on a book that stands to make me hundreds or even thousands of dollars is a good investment.


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