Monday, March 21, 2011

The Life of a Contract Engineer: Week 8

This week, like most weeks, had it's ups and down. Monday around 1:30 PM was a rather significant down. I learned that the person who I am currently replacing is coming back ahead of schedule. When I originally was informed about this position in December the chances of the person coming back were dubious. Fortunately, he will be returning to work and whatever issue that he may have had is clearing up. That being said. My time is limited. He returns Thursday March 31st and there will be "several" weeks of overlap when we are both working there, but the insinuation is that I have more job hunting to do. I'll get back to that.

After a rather unproductive Monday afternoon wallowing in depression I rallied to have a very productive week. In fact Thursday from 4PM to 5PM I had my most productive hour of work yet. I received a modified CAD model of a support beam that I had been working with over the last two weeks and in that one hour I imported it to ANSYS, created all of the connections between the 19 parts, applied the forces and boundary conditions, meshed the part, and ran the simulation. I was so on the ball that as I was clicking things I vividly remember having to wait for the computer to process that action before I could make the next click with my mouse. My mind was moving as fast as it ever has. Considering that I was going head to head with a 3.7 GHz quad core computer with 20GB of RAM, I'm pretty excited. There was a lot of background experience to get me to the point where I knew what to click in what order, but still my mind was just flying. At this point in my life I would consider that a 100+ dollar per hour work effectiveness. Probably more like 200+.

Friday, I did not go into work. Instead I went to an interview at John Deere in Dubuque, Iowa. They are looking for people like me and I happen to have spent most of my life around rural locations where machinery is common. I've done my share of manual labor and operating large equipment so I think I'm a good fit for the job. But after five on-site interviews and only one job offer, who knows what a feeling is worth.

As far as tackling unemployment possibly again. I am far more prepared this time. I have Janzen Gear and my book in reserve. Plus I have been saving about 50% of my pretax income in my saving account so that I can hopefully pay bills on my own for a few months in case I spend a few more months unemployed. Additionally, I'm in a better mental state now than I really have ever been. Read the last paragraph of today's post to better understand what I mean.

In investing news, I'm really getting into the stock market thing. There is just so much money to be made with the right strategy and research that to ignore that kind of opportunity I feel is ignorant. I didn't buy any stock this week. In fact I haven't for the last month. I'm saving up for the first quarter statements to come up because it seems that there is generally a 1-2 month uptick on stocks with the best quarterly earning statements. Seeing as how I don't know which stocks are among the best right now, I'm waiting until some numbers come in. Additionally, there is a company that I am interested in investing in but they recently filed a document with the SEC when I feel the need to read before I invest.

In Janzen Gear news I'm waiting on the manufacturer to finish the boards. Lead times even in a little shop two miles away from my house can be rather long. That's a good thing to learn now when I am young.

In running news I ran 84 miles including a nice 9.7 mile tempo at 5:59 pace. I had two runs in the 6:30 pace range for a total of 22 miles and a 15 mile long run. I was aiming for higher mileage but I'll take the quality running any day over extra miles. My hip is coming around really well. For the upcoming week I was aiming for 100 miles, but I think 90 would still be nice. More importantly I want to get in two tempos one at half marathon pace and one a little slower than marathon pace. I'd also like to do some strides or short hills.

In writing mode, I passed 50,000 words on my manuscript! That's a huge milestone. After probably somewhere around 100 hours of plain writing, plus more than a year of unemployment and misemployment and countless hours of research and "testing", I'm at 108 pages of single spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman text. I'm probably 90-95% done with the actual writing. However I have to do some formatting and rearranging which I am maybe 20% done with. I also need to edit it extensively before I start showing it to people and realistically I'm less than 10% done with that. (As I read what I wrote weeks ago I often edit it that's why I've done any at all.) I have not queried any agents at all yet or set up any speaking engagements, but that is all part of the plan. This is very exciting for me because I feel this has the real potential to help other new graduates dealing with unemployment. I hope this book is a resource both from a physical point of view, such as giving direction about how to get a job, and the economic influences post-2008 that are creating the mildly unique employment/unemployment patterns. Aside from all of the technical aspects I devote much of the book to maintaining and creating a positive mental attitude. For me the most important lesson that unemployment taught me was a more appropriate value system. While the values at the high end of my priorities scale did not really change, the order of my priorities and my appreciation of those factors and relationships has greatly increased, even if I still rarely show my changed disposition. In other words, I became more comfortable in my own skin, because I made changes in my head. How do you change your thinking? That's a good question! Buy my book!

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