Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quitting and Quitters

As I was running last week I thought about quitting things. To be successful at a high level at anything you have to sacrifice other things. In other words to do something well, you have to quit other things.

I was one of those kids that would say when prodded during some sort of exertion, "I am not a quitter!" Much of that comes from my family. We like to finish what we start. However, as I age and progress at a small number of things I choose to focus on those things so that I can take them as far as seems fit. My running is the prefect example of something that I have decided to excel at that I have quit other things to focus on. I no longer play my trumpet or act and I ride my bicycle sparingly. Those have all be incredible life changing events, but at this point in my life I am spending that time finding out how well I can run.

You will quit things in life. Be careful to consider the opportunity costs involved in quitting something. Are you quitting something because you don't like it or because you like something else more or both? It is worth your time to finish things that you start, but it makes sense to pursue things in the long term that can provide you some success. Defining success can be hard, but it makes the result that much more enjoyable.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lessons from Failure

Ryan Hall started taking a day off, and ran a 2:04. That's the a short description. For a longer description read this Running Times article. One of the things that stuck out to me about the article, is something that has been reflected in my own life, a sense of balance.

Hall mentions the people in the 70s and 80s that had full times jobs and still ran great marathons. He suggests that they were happier in life because they were doing more than just running. Perhaps I beat him to the idea. I am really enjoying working and training. While I was unemployed I had plenty of time to train, but I was not really happy so my training was subpar. Having both I am seeing my training progress in 2011 in ways that are faster than any other training situation I have been in, ever. Although the first six months of 2006 might be an exception because I made huge breakthroughs that season, but it was the first consistent training I ever had year round.

What are the lessons? I can not focus on one physical aspect of my life and ignore other aspects and hope to progress at the one thing I am focusing on. Other lessons, the most important day to double when training for the marathon is after a long run (except for the special block). I can not go hard every day. Having a steady income is good so that I know I can pay my bills and eat the whole wheat pasta, steak, fish, cheese, and other expensive foods I feel give me that extra few seconds in the marathon or that faster recovery between workouts.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Live in Iowa: Week 19

Another good week. I worked 42 hours this week. Part of that was a half day field trip to a logging operation that is using one of our skidders. It is nice to get out into the field and see the stuff actually be used. We can see how they use these things and the short comings they have.I like learning the details about our machines that are not as good as our competition or as good as a previous edition. It gives us something clear to improve.

I ran 101 miles this week including a 22 mile long run and a couple of workouts one with a 4:49 mile. That is the fastest mile I have ever run in a workout and it's a nice step in the right direction. I did end up chasing mileage on Saturday afternoon and doing 14 miles instead of 10 miles so that I would get over 100. It sounds ridiculous but in a month or two when I look back at this stretch of training that 100 mile week will give me more confidence about my training.

I spent a number of afternoons coaching the UD team. It is very exciting to be working with these  people. They are excited to be there and there is so much to teach them. I think that without a doubt every athlete on our cross country team is going to have a great season. Most if not all will probably have significant personal records.

I even spent some time socializing with non-runners and non-coworkers. I kind of did everything this week, except go climbing. I haven't climbed in months and my finger tips are weak. For now that is okay, but I do miss climbing.

Something that kind of set in this week, is that I'm really just paying off my loans. Money comes in and money goes out and I'm still sleeping on an air mattress and driving my Toyota Previa with 273,280 miles. It is something to enjoy (getting out of debt), but I feel like I'm getting nowhere. Maybe I need to get some new clothes... I basically wear the same four pairs of pants to work.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Breaking Through Mental Barriers

Friday night in my workout I ran a 4:49 1600. That's the fastest mile I've ever ran in practice. It's a mere 15 seconds slower than my personal record. Had I had some company I could have probably ran a 3000m personal best. That pace has never felt that easy for me before. What that means is that I'm in shape relative to the kind of shape that I have been in in the past, specifically for the 5k distance kind of events.

The problem is that instead of doing two more miles at that pace I mentally wore myself out thinking about the fact that I ran a 4:49 and stumbled through two 800s before calling the workout quits. I have high goals for myself. I would like to be able to run that kind of 1600m interval six times in a workout, it is just that actually getting to the level where I can throw down that kind of pace for that length of time comfortably is a shock. It is taking me some time to adjust to the fact that I am that fast of runner. I dreamt about running this kind of pace in a workout and then I do it and all of a sudden I have to adjust the other workouts I do to be in line with the kind of shape that I am in. Of course running is nonlinear, I feel great one day and a week later I feel terrible. You have to tack into the wind you can not sail strait into it.

I have at least one 5k coming up Labor Day, and I will probably do a few open 8k cross country races this fall and I just registered for the Des Moine Half Marathon October 16th. I used to think of personal records in terms of seconds and maybe 10 or 15 seconds in any given race, but now, am I in shape to PR by a minute in the 5k? Perhaps that is a long shot, but 30 seconds? I probably have that locked up right?

The best part of all of this, aside from the obvious 3k/5k PR shape that I am in and the implications for a future 10k PR is that this was nearly 30 seconds per mile faster than I need to race my marathon in December. Marathon pace has to feel slow. It is still hard work, and it will obviously not feel slow as I do workouts, but on race day I have to be able to cruise the first 2/3 of the race or at least the first half of the race feeling like 5:18 is slow. One of the best ways I can think of doing that is running 4:xx mile pace in workouts and hopefully in some shorter distance races.

Friday was a nice workout. For me to succeed at my goals this fall I will have to have a number of nice mental breakthrough workouts and mental breakthrough races. Physically I can progress very fast, I need to allow myself mentally to progress as fast as I am able physically. Fortunately, I am getting closer to the goals.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Second Marathon: California International Marathon 2011

I am registered for the 2011 California International Marathon December 4th, 2011. Why this particular one? I was having trouble getting motivated to start building up my training again to go out and progress a few minutes in the marathon, so I thought, is it possible that I can achieve the 2:19 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials standard? Because the entire year 2012 will probably not have any qualifying marathons for the 2016 trials so that year I am more or less forced to focus on other distances. Thus it is take a shot at the trials this fall or wait at least a year and a half to qualify for the next trials. Can I qualify for the 2012 trials? My answer was and is, yes, it is possible but I will need as much time as possible. A lot of things will have to go really well between now and then and on race day, but it is possible. I give myself a 4% chance of success. I have run a 10k that fast, I have run so many long runs and a few ultras that I do not expect to hit the glycogen wall, because I didn’t at Green Bay, and it’s a net downhill course. Plus, I’m in as good of a training situation as I have ever been in.
I expect there will be a group of men going after the standard and I plan to sit in behind them for as long as possible. Hopefully that is 26.2 miles. This could fail by slowing to 5:25 pace at 25 miles and running 2:19:01 (Which I would totally appeal because most courses are a little long to ensure measuring error and my chip time might be under the limit.) If success is defined by running faster than 2:19 there are many different ways that I could fail. I know that my chances are slim. Regardless of how crazy you think I am, I am giving myself the opportunity to succeed. On December 5th I will know more about myself than I do now. I don't give myself the chance, I will never know what is possible.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Live in Iowa: Week 18

This week was busy. It was not the most organized week because I am rusty at time management. Thus blog posts were few this week. Anyway, on to the action!

I worked 42 hours. As a contract employee or engineering services I am hired to work a minimum of 40 hours per week while the engineers working directly for the company are hired to  work 45 hours per week. So basically we all arrive at my honeycomb at the same time (about 7AM), but I am typically the first to leave. Sometimes I am the last to leave but more often than not I am first. As far as interested things this week at work, I had a project that I started on and spent about two days on and finished. Basically the geometry was a robust enough design to withstand the accepted loading conditions. That is kind of a rare occurrence. There are almost always changes we FEA people recommend. Secondly, I will be getting a new project which happens to involve a fiberglass part. Perhaps this will mean modeling composites, which I have never done and I would like to do.

I started my coaching job at the University of Dubuque. This is exciting because there are so many things that I have learned over the years and I am excited to pass as much of that on as I can. Already I have started to share my experiences. This team is full of potential. I won't say much more because I do not want to make any sudden and not thought out statements. Suffice to say, I'm excited.

I ran 102 miles this week. It is my first 100+ week post-marathon. The week was a bit of a flop though because I only did a short hills workout and two long runs. I did no quality work in the 5k-half marathon pace range that I need to be doing 2 workouts a week for at this point. The reason is that I slept in for a 5AM workout once and two nights I was refused to run on a track because a turf sport was having practice.

What else did I do? I went out to eat twice. I worked my way through Entourage season 3. I slept  over eight hours a few nights. Oh yeah, I went on a 33 mile bike ride, one that went well. There were attacks on the hills (which I like) but nothing overly aggressive so that everyone could catch up at the tops of the hills. Also, the stock market is bouncing around with 400+ point swings becoming common. All I think I know is that the price of oil looks to be going down a lot at the pump in the near future and another recession is probably not going to happen, Italy has some issues, Germany is set to take over Europe (this time for real), and there are jobs out there. At least there are jobs in Dubuque, Iowa. Construction equipment is flying off the assembly lines, engineers are in demand, and there are "help wanted" posters at a number of businesses around town. They may be minimum wage jobs, but $7.25/hour is better than nothing.

I hope you had a good week as well. If not, this is a new week. This is the first week of the rest of your life.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Life is a game that takes us a long time to figure out. As running is a subset of the seconds of my life, it too involves a number of factors that I strive to understand. A professional career is the same way, many components requiring different skills. Cooking is the perfect example, many components at the right times and in the right quantities each component with it's own standards for optimal flavor.

I am not very good at sitting still. I mean that in the metaphorical sense. I see people who go to work, go home, and watch tv. It seems to be a popular past time that is more pronounced now than when I was younger. As much as I enjoy sitting in front of the tube at the end of the day, I can not imagine that being my main activity. This was a bit of an atypical week for me because the cross country runners arrived and I started coaching after work, and since I have not fallen into a rhythm yet I was running as the sun went down at least three days this week.

Time management is a critical skill and something that I have not really had to employ since 2009. It is possible to do so many different things in a day or week, but the more anyone desires to do, the more efficient with time that person must be. One of my favorite things about high school and college track was hanging out after practice stretching, and going to eat, spending several hours not being terribly productive. Those days were somewhat rare in college as I spent quite a lot of time studying and in meetings in the evenings, yet there were still many of them. Now as I am trying to figure out my schedule I am working on figuring out the optimal order the ingredients of my life will be on a daily basis. Will I run three times per day? Before work, with the cross country team, then after practice? How will I eat supper in that kind of situation, because I do not run well directly after I eat. Should I really try to wake up at 5AM every day to get my main run in during the morning? The problem is that many of my workouts take an hour and a half or more and that would mean waking up around 4:30. Plus, I have never really run well early in the morning. On top of all that, when do I do laundry? It sounds like a simple problem, but I need an hour and a half to do laundry, and I prefer to do it during the week, but with a 9-10PM bedtime that means getting done with everything else by 7:30-8:30, which is pushing it.

It will certainly get figured out. It always does. Until further notice the best way to contact me is using my phone number. I have over 2000 unread emails, not counting the emails I automatically have filtered.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Live in Iowa: Week 17

This week was kind of how I imagine the next four months going. I worked a nice 42 hours. It is a continuing learning experience. I did some work a few weeks ago, started the report, went through a second iteration of the report then it was suggested I redo some things. I suppose that's part of the learning experience, but it is typically not exciting to redo something. That being said, this particular project will be and already has been a good experience for me from a modeling point of view.

I ran 79 miles including a nice 20:12 6k tempo that is the fastest 6k tempo I have ever done. I also did some 400s and strides so a fair week for quality over all. I biked 155 miles including two 60 mile rides. That's about 18.5 hours of exercise this week. A new training record for me. I am planning to make an announcement this week about my upcoming training plans, stay tuned.

I went to sleep twice this week at 9 because I was sick all week. I had a sore throat starting last week and it got worse Friday so that I finally took some expired-for-over-a-year azithromycin antibiotics. Within two hours of the first pill I felt better than I had in over a week. I ran that nice tempo feeling half decent, which always makes a workout easier.

You see, when I am running a lot of miles I get sick really easily. My immune system is weak because of all the physcial stress. It is a hazard of the pursuit.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Success Expedites Improvement

On my runs I often see the same people. One of those people I happened to see Friday night and we were headed the same direction going the same pace so we ran together for about five miles. He was talking about his kids in high school how one had success early and achieved greater success later while the other had difficulty early and achieved less success later, but a more valuable success because it was such hard work.

When I explain my running career thus far I mention that I had a breakthrough season in high school and then another one in college. Specifically after the one in college I wondered, if I did X amount of work to achieve A, then if I can do Y amount of work I can probably achieve B! I have not really clearly communicated the fact that I only stuck with running because I had a little success at an early stage. Specifically, my sophomore year of high school cross country. At the regional meet that year I ran 11:54 through two miles breaking my two mile PR by about 10 seconds and getting under 12 for the first time. I went on to run 18:54 for the 5k breaking 19 for the first time, I think, my memory is not prefect.

That was a huge race for me. It was a huge break through after running a couple of 20s at the beginning of the year and then mid 19s most of the season. Plus, our team placed third at that meet by I think one or two points and we went to state (I was 4th on the team and thus a scoring member). I got the flu or something the week of state and ran terribly, but the break through was accomplished.

That was the first season that things clicked. Until that season I was regularly beaten by the girls and lapped by most of the boys. In other words, a pretty typical start to a running career. I just happened to have a little bit of success fairly early, which not everybody has. I will not say that that season catapulted to me to serious training, I still thought that pre-season training meant easy running two weeks before the season started. However, I did enjoy running enough to run my first half marathon that winter and do some running in the off season and further improve over the next two and a half years of high school. If I had not had that success at that point, perhaps I would have quit the next year to do something else. We shall never know.

In America we often are chided for rewarding every young kid for participating and not for any actual accomplishment. I must admit I have soccer and baseball trophies and I have no idea if I won or lost. We just played the game. Growing up through the system of rewarded participation I am not sure wether it is good or bad. It worked out for me, I ended up doing the activities I enjoy the most and have a few skills that are applicable. Brain Sell is another example. The guy ran 15:30s 5ks his freshman and sophomore years of college at a D3 school. His marathon pace eight years later was 15:30s for all eight and a half 5ks. Had he not run those races early in college, he might have never transfered to a D1 school and never ran a 28 10k as a senior and never ran professionally. A little success at the right time goes a long way.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Banks! The Governments! ...The Farmers?

In 2008 banking got a makeover, at least we are told that. In 2011 governments are getting a makeover. It started in Egypt and Madison, Wisconsin before turning to budget issues in Greece, Italy, and the United States. We have not seen the end of this. In fact, when it comes to government budget recovery, we are at the very beginning of this cycle. It will possibly involve a decade or more of limited growth.

The question just popped in my head while I was eating dinner, 'who will fail next?' while I have no idea I am afraid that food will become the next crisis. There is already an official famine in Ethopia and Somolia. As China, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia continue to expand they will want more food and more energy intensive foods, like meat. Add that to an El NiƱo cycle and add some insect in the mix and before you know it food costs twice as much (wholesale) and all of the sudden 3/4 of the world is unsure of their next meal.

Obviously, I hope that there are no major failures for the next 70 years of my life, but given two big ones in three years, something else will probably come up.

Not to sounds paranoid, although I do consider myself paranoid about unemployment, I spend time running and reading thinking about the future and crazy scenarios such as massive famines. That amount of preperation helps me run races and climb mountains because I have already thought through most of the scenarios and all I have to do it react according to one of my scenarios instead of panic.

So I'm not hoarding canned food and weapons and gold, but I do have a garden... I guess I was brainwashed as a young kid. They said 'Be Prepared' and I listened. For the most part it is all mental. The key is not to panic I suppose. Those that sit down on the mountain sometimes never get up. Those that get dropped in a race during a surge either work their way back up, or go backwards. What you do on the rebound after the fall really does matter. Will you try again with your new knowledge or end the pursuit? Some pursuits are too valuable to me to stop regardless of the number of failures.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ask How Not Why

In high school, after I decided life was an anthropology experiment, I set out to understand how people react. Answering the question why they react a certain way is far harder, so for the most part I don't even try. Understanding how a person (or anything really) will react to a given stimuli is important in the future so that we can build effective relationships and not make the miskates of our past. By observing what actions obtain positive and negative reactions we can learn what to do and what not to do.

Extending this concept to economics, when S&P downgrade the US credit, the stock market takes a hit. Going down for a few days is how the stock market reacted. The why is that investors felt that trouble was eminent and there were safer place to put their money than stocks. Downgrading of a country's debt rating implies that that country is not totally stable enough to pay their bills. In other words, the country has a combination of weak economy and not absolutely effective government. Which means that a recession is possible. Even in that simple example the why is more complicated.

One more example is failure of a structure. Why it failed has to do with design inefficiencies or an unplanned load case. How it failed is the physical phenomena of material failure analysis.

Another example, perhaps someone yells at you after you forgot to do the dishes. That is how the person reacted to your dish doing failure, but chances are there is something else going on with that person that caused him or her to yell. Understand why a person yells or acts a certain way is far more complex. Although, in anoint term committed relationship the why is probably helpful to understand as well.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Live in Iowa: Week 16

Another week living, and I suppose that means another week closer to my death. I've never really thought of it that way. It was a busy week. One of the busiest I have had working yet.

I officially worked 51 hours. That's the most I have ever worked professionally. While it is a lot, it still is far easier than WPI was. I spent the first three days learning the fundamentals of product for John Deere Construction and Forestry Equipment. I basically got paid to drive around articulated dump trucks, bulldozers, motor graders, and four wheel loaders. While it is fun, it is tiring and those guys have hard jobs.

I came down with a sore throat the last half of the week due to running/biking more, lack of sleep because I was waking up at 5AM to go to Moline, IL, and dehydration. When I sit at my desk I drink water continuously, but at the training I was only getting like 80-90% of normal or perhaps I was sweating more in the heat.

I ran 61 miles and took two days off, although I biked about 38 miles over those two off days. I had a nice 1k hard 1k moderate workout. I struggle with the harder recovery running so it is something I intend to work on more in this cycle. I also had a nice 8.5 mile progression run on the track and that went well. I again struggle with steadily increasing the pace so I was hurting toward the end even though it was not terribly fast. Basically I worked on things this week that I am not good at, which means improvement will come.

Friday night I drove up to Mikwaukee to celebrate my sister's 21st birthday and I had a nice time.  We even went to a club and had VIP service. It felt like I was on Entourage or the Hills. Definitely not my normal Friday night.

It's late, I'm tired, I'm going to bed. Also, I'll say it on the blog so that I'm committed in public, I'm going to write an article about Work, Life and Retirement. I feel that the current stock market crash and debt crisis is making Generation Y even more doubtful of retirement and a better standard of living than our parents. Anyway, I'll elaborate later.

One last thing, I bought stock on Friday because it was at a good price. Well, it's at an even better price today but I don't have any cash. I live and I learn.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


It is frustrating how often distractions get in the way of our goals. Admittedly, sometimes we need "distractions" to remind us what is really important or what our more important goals are, so not all distractions are bad. I had the opportunity to witness a distraction progress recently and it was educating. To be honest I am not sure what I learned as it happened within the last 24 hours, but I know that I learned something.

One of the nice things about moving is that you start at the new location as a new person. I am very fortunate to have moved to Dubuque at a time when my life is going as well as it ever has. What I mean is that I hit the ground running, figuratively (and actually). I have noticed that with time distractions tend to build in any location. When I am new in town I have no requests of myself from others, which allows me to be very focused and thus effective in the things that I do.

I was thinking about high school, college, and post-collegiate life on one of my runs recently and the difference between focus and distractions. In high school, I did everything. Not actually everything, but I was involved in so many different groups that for my grade I had the most pictures in the year book twice and I was second in my class once. As I get older I realize the difference focusing on a specific goal makes versus floating between a number of different activities. For example, I guarantee that you will not find one person that is a professional athlete, concert quality orchestra musician, and CFO of a company with 100+ million in sales annually all at the same time. Each one of those requires so much work to get to that point of capability that along the way other pursuits are typically sacrificed.

In the world of literature no narrative about running has influenced my own training as much as Chris Lear's Running with the Buffaloes. The book follows the Colorado University cross country team as it tries to win the national championship. As far as seasons to follow this has to be one of the most eventful seasons that any team of any sport has ever had. Of course along the way there is a fair amount of talk about training, but the emotional human aspect is very strong due to the events and mainly the one event that occurs part of the way through the season. One of the take away ideas from the book for me what that universities are not looking for well rounded people, they are looking for people that are really good at something. In terms of running, universities want the fastest runner, not the 700th fastest who does other things moderately well too.

I read that book when I was about 20, which was a big year for me in terms of maturing. I realized I was not a kid and I had to get serious about my life. It was time to avoid distractions. Attempting to avoid distractions is a significant aspect of my life. It's part of the reason I've been single so long. It is part of the reason my mountaineering and climbing career has occurred with a number of leaps of commitment. I was (and in many respects still am) too inexperienced to be in Pakistan climbing 8000 meter mountains, but as part of the process toward a goal of mine I feel the need to avoid distractions and give myself the opportunity to excel. One way to do that is put myself out there and cut the distractions also known as camp on a glacier in Pakistan for a month.

Sometimes distractions can build over time. For example, last year about this time I was bumming around summer camp after the season was over doing some interesting things in my routine, but not much. I felt that I needed to do something "big" to progress. While I failed at climbing just about everything, I ended up running the Wonderland Trail, which was a fantastic experience. I also met and reconnected with a number of my friends, which by itself made the trip worth it.

What I am trying to say, if you did not get it yet, is that you have to keep your eyes on the prize, the important goals of your life. There are many distractions in life. I think that trying just about everything is a great idea, but I feel succeeding at even one long term goal is worth more than dozens, perhaps hundreds of distraction experiences.

Writers note: Just so that you know where my head is at, I've been "struggling" since my marathon. I've done so many of the things that I want to that the thought of attacking running again is giving me some apprehension. I've been bicycling (a distraction), working more hours (a distraction from running although an interesting and fulfilling one that pays well, 50 hours a week versus 40 really cuts into my running time), and spending more time reading and consuming media. The excitement to do 100+ (I'm hoping for some consistent 120 mile weeks this fall) mile weeks is coming back but I can't just go out and do it, it takes a few weeks to get there pushing myself every day. Long term motivation for me has never been a problem, but short term I can be super lazy and apathetic. Hence, I feel I've been distracted.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I will Coach!

I am one of the two new cross country and track assistant coaches at the University of Dubuque. This is an incredible opportunity. The coaching staff is being refreshed with some new people so we have the chance to start some good habits. Additionally, UD has great facilities for track and field. The only thing we lack is a perfect javelin area. On the other hand, we do have a 200 meter indoor track.

The three member cross country staff had a three hour meeting Thursday to discuss all sorts of details. If you imagine that running is simple, define easy and hard for me. Part of the excitement for us is that we are building a system. None of us are established college coaches so we have the opportunity to start from scratch, which would be difficult for more experienced people to do.

One of my goals since high school was to coach. I did not expect the opportunity to appear while I am so young and this is a rare opportunity indeed.

How will this affect my engineering job? I will not stay at work late as often as I do now. Other than that it should not affect my job at all. Personally, I will probably wake up early to double more consistently so that I can do the workout with the team and still do my workout. I am excited to see where this leads. I feel that many people will benefit from this collaboration.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Here come More Layoffs

With the new legislation to cut spending rest assured that the government will be laying more people off. Many in the media (NPR) are saying that this most recent bill does not go far enough to pay off debt and reduce the future deficit. In fact, I read on NPR's iPhone app that one of China's major credit rating agency recently down graded the US to A from A+. That sounds good but it is a number of steps down from the AAA rating that all of the US rating agencies are giving the US. What is significant is that China owns something like 1.2 trillion of the US debt, so we might care what their rating agencies think if we care what our rating agencies think. Also, remember that US rating agencies gave subprime CDOs Investment grade ratings (A or higher) even after the bottom fell out. In other words, they screwed up in 2008, they could be doing it again.

Being unemployed was terrible. I felt as though no one would give me a chance. With the government set to cut more spending more people will be out of jobs. This means the government will not collect as much income tax or sales tax because unemployed people do not spend as much money.

It is so sad for me to read about this and listen to it. I don't understand why we cannot raise taxes. It seems to me that with 100 millions workers at an average salary of $50,000 a 1% tax increase across the board could fund 1 million jobs. I will take a 10% tax increase if it means 10 million people will be gainfully employed by the government clearing beetle kill or repairing roads or getting kids involved in positive programs.

I still think we need to cut spending but I don't think congress should be the ones to determine how it gets done. They don't know how any of the money gets spent. Perhaps we should ask the various departments to cut spending by a target amount without layoffs and see what they come up with. It worked in one medium size California city that was featured on NPR.

There are tens of millions of households with larger incomes than me, and I understand they have kids and other expenses I do not have, but they are getting so much money it makes sense to tax them (and me) more. I am in favor of some sort of equality among people because inequality breeds violence, and the thought of that terrifies me. I have been reading about the Rwanda genocide. What makes Rwanda so different than the United States? Sure there was a decades long process that led to those weeks of violence and there is a slew of cultural differences specifically relating to growing up in poverty, but they are humans just like us.

I learned last week that 1 million high school students drop out every year. They will surely be the first to be unemployed. It is all so sad. I am not sure why I read the news or study history. I feel like we (congress included) are just going to make similar mistakes to those made by others in the past and we expect different results. Perhaps there is a dumb.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Those Who Can't Teach, Do

There is a semi famous saying, "those who can't do, teach." It is not true overall, but there are some teachers who end up teachers because they are not good at other occupations, thus the saying. It dawned on me recently after I asked a second question of an instructor and received an unsatisfactory response that this particular person was skilled at an operation, but not a particularly good teacher. This is not the first time that I have been the student to an unskilled teacher who is a skilled operator.

I have a number of relatives in the teaching industry and I know that it is very competitive, and budget cuts are only making it more competitive. One possible solution is to hire teachers in an industry setting to work with engineers, factory workers, salespeople, and other "regular" employees to keep everyone's skills and communication up to date.

Perhaps I am ignorant, but it seems teachers learn a skill, and teach it using their superior communication skills. I know that many teachers are passionate about a particular subject or age group, but it seems there is quite a bit of opportunity in industry to teach. Of course, it would take a company to take the initiative and teachers willing to get out of the school system.

Please take this open source idea and help employ more people.