Thursday, December 31, 2015

1 for 8 on Mountains in Colorado in the Winter

Pacific on the far left, Atlantic in the center and 5th class ridge to  Fletcher on the right.
We came out to Colorado to try and climb a mountain. Picking a mountain is always difficult. In the winter it is especially difficult.

We wanted to do something tall, like a 14er, we wanted to do something steep, not necessarily technical but something harder than a walk, something that required an ice axe and crampons, and also something relatively short. It's amazing how hard three miles one way in the winter can be.
Pacific peak, the west ridge, seemed to be the perfect mountain, about six miles round trip, a third class ridge for about a thousand feet and topping out at 13,950 feet it is the 61st highest mountain in Colorado.

We woke up at 4:30 AM to get a start on the day. Had a quick breakfast and then headed over Vail pass to route 91 and the Mayflower Gulch trailhead.
Prepping in the car in the cold at the Trailhead
We started hiking around 6:30, which was about a half hour behind schedule. I point that out because there were a slew of issues that led to our ultimate results for the day. We also left the snowshoes behind. After about a mile we veered off through the meadow, because I thought it would be closer to the valley (on the far left of the first picture) that we were headed up to reach Pacific.
Looking back down the valley as we tromped across the meadow.
However, the trail through the meadow was a ski and snowshoe trail, and while my ground pressure is pretty low, because I don't weight much, my two climbing partners sunk into the snow more than I. The trail looped back to the main packed down trail which we did not need any flotation for, meaning we wasted probably 15-20 minutes in the meadow that we didn't need to.

Just before we reached the cabins there was another ski and snowshoe trail that headed up in the direction we wanted to do, so we headed across the meadow. Well, the same thing happened where we needed more flotation than our boots provided. It wasn't so bad for me, but my two climbing partners struggled more than I post holing in the snow. Lesson: probably best to take snow shoes or skis. The reason I don't is that where you get to a serious place, like summit day on K2 or Everest, there will be no snowshoes and you will have to post hole. So I view these little trips as training. Plus, snowshoes are only useful up to about 30 degrees, and most of the places I like to climb are that steep or steeper. The down side for my climbing partners is that they typically weigh more than 135 pounds and just don't have the flotation I do.

In short, crossing the meadow was a huge energy expenditure and not having snowshoes probably put us another hour behind schedule. It was exhausting, and it wasn't as hard for me as the other two.

We started contouring around the west ridge of Atlantic. When we reached about 12,150 ft. we had our first view of the west ridge of Pacific, our original objective. At that point it was 10:25 AM and we were far enough away and the ridge looked steep enough that we decided to just climb the second class ridge to the top of Atlantic.
West ridge of Pacific in the background, hiking up the west ridge on Atlantic at 12,150 feet.
We headed up the ridge and it was cold. I put my down jacket on. In packing in the morning I made the mistake of not bringing my hardshell pants, so I only had tights and my soft shell bib pants on my legs, which were of course cold.

At 11:30 AM we crested a small knoll in the ridge at 12,850 feet and saw that we still had at least a half mile and 1000 vertical feet, and were not going to make that by 1 PM. It was even more windy, maybe 20 mph winds sustained and 30 mph gusts, and while I am not sure the actual temperature, it was cold enough that I was only moderately comfortable in my big down jacket so at this point with no respite from the wind on the exposed ridge ahead we decided to turn around, having never even gotten to a point where we needed to put crampons on. Personally, I wasn't feeling that good either between the altitude and having more than one drink of alcohol the night before this. I didn't take any of my own pictures because it was so cold.
Descending the west ridge of Atlantic
We headed back down the ridge the same way we came up. and then across the meadow. It was even more exhausting than the first time. There is always a mental let down on the descent, a sort of relaxing, or not caring, or absent minded attitude that the summit, or lack of summit, is over and we just have to get back, no one cares about the descent. 
Our route across the meadow and zig zagging up the west ridge of Atlantic
It terrifies me, not caring about the descent. For me it is the time to be on your game and not make any mistakes. 80% of mountaineering accidents happen on the descent. We had a nice descent, no one got hurt, although I did post hole and fall on my face near the end of the ridge.

We reached the car at about 2:30, about eight hours after leaving in the morning. Overall, it was a very good day. It was a good learning experience, a nice day in the mountains.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Is There Ever a "Good" Time to Break Down?

It's a question you don't really want to answer. Whenever you are using your vehicle, you would expect your vehicle to work. I mean, it's not like people simply drive around waiting on their cars and trucks to break down. At least I've never heard of anyone doing that.

It's just frustrating... I never want to break down again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Story in Progress

So... This is not good.
I'm going to take my time telling this story, partly because I don't know how it ends.

226,000 miles is not that far. It is about the closest distance to the moon at the closest part of its orbit (called perigee). It's the kind of distance for a 1990s Toyota where I frankly don't worry about it having issues. 

Our road trip west to Colorado started off simple enough. I stayed with a friend in Pella, Iowa and we left at 5 AM, slightly delayed by winter storm Goliath, but not bad. We were doing 40-60 miles per hour in the worst of the storm, and were doing just under the speed limit by the time we were out of Des Moines.

Nebraska passed uneventfully and eastern Colorado was as smooth as could be too. We stopped at the Denver REI to buy a water bottle and Chapstick. However leaving REI the van intermittently flashed the low oil pressure light. It was very inconsistent. We thought it probably had to do with the altitude and started the drive up I-70.

Unfortunately things quickly went down hill as we went uphill. By the Chief Hosa exit the low oil pressure light came on and stayed on, and the check engine light came on. They went off briefly, I think as we had a short downhill section. So we pulled off at Evergreen to investigate. 

In a gas station parking lot we measured the oil and had a hard time reading the dip stick, so we added oil. As an engineer I know from experience that the majority of the time it is better to have too much pull than not enough. Not enough oil and you will have metal on metal wear. Too much oil and you might spill some or blow a seal, which are less severe than not having enough oil. 

The engine sounded much better, no clanking or knocking so we thought that was probably it and began the 80 mile drive over two more mountain passes to our destination. However, just four miles into the drive the engine was making its worst noises yet. Clanking and knocking and sounding like metal on metal (a very bad sign). It was so bad we pulled off onto the shoulder, and after 10 to 15 minutes of frantic phone calls we decided  to head back to a mechanic shop in Evergreen, conveniently 50 meters from the gas station we had stopped at 45 minutes before. 

We started by backing up a quarter mile, in the dark, up a steep on ramp on a relatively busy I-70...

Monday, December 28, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 235

Ahhh Christmas! Family time, quiet time, and another opportunity for thanksgiving. Certainly this was a good week for me.

The week didn't start out the best as I re-pulled my hamstring on Sunday afternoon while running, and had another set back. I had a massage Friday night and felt so much better after that I pushed my recovery a little fast. It was muddy and my feet were sliding everywhere on unstable ground and my hamstring was being extended while it was trying to contract, and the weak muscle fibers tore. Not a great day.

The next day I began working for three days this week, and was surprisingly productive. I will be traveling the first and probably the third week in January and we're trying to get everything done we can before those trips so that they are as successful as possible. I also had the chance to have lunch with my boss's boss's boss's boss who I didn't really know. It's interesting, the three people up the chain from me are all engineers, or at least have an engineering education and background. This person in the hierarchy comes from an accounting background, which initially was a little disappointing because we engineers like to experiment and see what is possible and do cool things simply to see if we can. On the other hand accountants get excited about profitability and good quality statistics and a solid business, which can seem a little boring from my perspective in research and development, but as I thought about it more we really need people like that in our organization to balance out the crazy ideas that the engineers try to push.

Of course, I spent Christmas, and about four days total, with my family up in Wisconsin. It's always good to see family. It is also nice to have some quiet time away from my normal routine. One discussion that came up several times this year is health concerns. We have a member of our extended family who has been in the hospital much of the fall. Similarly, none of my family is getting any younger and preparing for the future is something that can help ease the transition, whatever that may be.

A person who will remain nameless recently bought a Tesla and let me drive it. I'll post some videos of it some time soon. The strangest part about the thing is that there is no audible feedback. When I would floor the accelerator, there is a quiet winding noise from the electric motor but not the loud engine revving that we typically think of when you are going from 0 to 60 in five seconds.
Me driving a Tesla Model S.
Running started off depressingly with the hamstring issue, but ended with 19 miles and a 7.5 mile run on Saturday. So I will take it. I've been stretching actively, massaging it, using an icy-hot type oil, and trying to warm up a little more thoroughly than in the past, and it seems to be working. I have this skill and this talent at running long distances, and if I am meant to excel at it in the future, I will.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

What does Christmas mean to you? If you live in the United States it probably means presents. If you are a Christian, like I am, it means that we are celebrating the best gift to the world (Jesus, God's son) by giving each other presents, gifts that we don't deserve. For some of you it means not going to work for up to two weeks. For others it means the stress of getting together with family or preparing for a party where your home will be invaded for most of a day. For still others it is another day to worry about paying the bills from a medical problem or rent and utilities.

The story of Jesus coming into this world at Christmas is also one of humility. The son of God could be anyone he wanted, but he was so poor he was essentially born in a barn. As our material wealth grows over Christmas I feel reminding ourselves, specifically myself, to be humble is important. It is greater to give to others than to receive. It's okay to receive, and to ask for help, but giving is really a great thing, especially God giving us his son, and Jesus giving us his life.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I Bought a Car on eBay: Replacing 1st Gen Honda Insight Battery

There is a reason I bought a 2002 Honda Insight with 144,000 miles in good condition for only $2,400, I knew I was going to have to replace the hybrid battery. Replacing the battery is a $2,000 to $3000 adventure. When the IMA light came on initially, I didn't think it was a huge deal, and I continued to drive for a few weeks normally. Then came a day when the battery drained to zero, and didn't immediately recharge. At that point it was like the computer was commanding electric assist, and thinking it was happening, but there was no electric assist. I basically had to floor the accelerator pedal at every stop sign and red light to start moving again. Needless to say, this wasn't going to work forever.

I took my 2002 Honda Insight into the local Honda dealership in mid September to have an oil change, my first while I have owned it, although I did only put about 5000 miles on it in the last year, and also to have them look at the IMA battery light. They confirmed that the battery was bad and needed to be replaced and told me it was in the neighborhood of $3000 for parts and labor. I knew that going in, actually, I was surprised that their estimate wasn't higher. In fact, getting a little mechanical and electrical experience by personally replacing the hybrid battery was part of the reason I bought this old car. I told the service manager that I would like to do the replacement myself and he seemed surprised, I think it was the first independent hybrid battery replacement he had heard of. All told I made it out of the dealership with a bill for $155 for the oil change and labor time inspecting the battery and controller, which they confirmed was working correctly. Which is a reason I typically don't go to bar dealerships for service, it's expensive. It is worth mentioning, in ten months of ownership this is the first service bill I had on my Honda. Other than this I have only paid for gas, and a $30 or so kit to clean the headlights which were clouded from 12 year old plastic.
The next step was to purchase a battery. I bought mine from Bumblebee Batteries out of Portland, OR in early October. They advertised more battery capacity (8 amp hours versus 6.5), a 20 minute video above on how to remove and install the battery, and they had positive reviews. The cost came to $2,770, which is more than I paid for the entire vehicle, that that also included $500 which would be refunded when I return the old hybrid battery core, or rather enticement module. I sent the module back before Thanksgiving. There was a delay because I wanted to tear down the actually battery before I sent it back. I also had to buy some tools, about $40 worth of sockets and wrenches.
An 80 pound package beside a car!
To be honest, following Bumblebee's video, the extrication went really smoothly. The worst part was the big 12 mm socket bolts behind the passenger seat. I just could not quire reach it and get more than 15 degrees of wrench movement with my three inch socket extension, and had to go back to the store and get a 6 inch socket extension, which I then used a cheater bar on to get a little more leverage.
Under the Carpet
I don't like getting dirty. The concept of digging into a bunch of oil and grease for fun isn't that fun for me. However, I really like turning wrenches and seeing how things work, and doing physical work. In other words, electrical and structural work, which is relatively clean, like the work to replace the hybrid battery, was great fun for me. Sure I can have a good time working on an engine or hydraulics system, and I like the physical experience of working on things that I sit behind a computer all day starting at, but I am just not a fan of getting covered in oil.
Under the Cover
The battery went in very smoothly. I think it took me around three hours of work in the back of my car, plus another hour going to the store to buy tools. The battery took maybe 1:45 to get out, and the new one went back in the car in just over an hour. Like any other project, the first time you do it is the hardest because you have no idea what you are doing.
Disconnecting the Battery Control Units
Two hybrid batteries beside a car.
Before I sent the old battery back I wanted to tear it down too. I heard that it was made with basically D cell batteries, planning that future third party after market companies could service the battery pack. I wanted to take it apart because if I could in deed just replace the batteries the next time the battery goes out in 2022, that would probably cost a whole lot less, maybe several hundred dollars. Typically, the more work you can do yourself, the more money you will save. Well I took it apart in this order:
Disassembling a Honda Insight 1st Gen Hybrid Battery
The Battery Pack
Removed white plastic cover and several bolts.
Remove Three Bolts
Removing More Bolts
Remove the Bolts Behind these Rubber Plugs
Don't loose these spacers!
Remove these six screws, I think...
Remove the bolts and screws on both orange plates, the screws are very small.
Pull out a battery. I bolted small plate to it and pulled it out with a wire.
One six cell "Battery"
When I finally pulled out the actually batteries they had a plastic shrink wrap over them, and the only way I was getting in there was with a knife, and frankly, I wasn't ready to do that. My concern was that the shrinkwrap probably keeps the six batteries together and I might have trouble keeping them together if I go at it with a knife. Six 1.5 volt cells in each "battery" and 20 "batteries" in each module connected in series is 180 volts, most much higher than the 144 volts rating of the battery pack. In other words, if two cells within a "battery" are not touching, the whole thing might not work. Of course, once bolted into the battery frame there is pressure on the batteries so it probably would not be an issue, especially I returned this to a guy that is probably going to tear them apart and replace them anyway.
The end connection has a threaded hole and thin electrical tab.
Looking Inside the "Battery" tube, notice the four rubber flaps to help stabilize the "battery".
Be careful aligning the electrical tab on each "battery" with the slots in the orange plates, it took me several tries, because I had to straiten them all before putting the orange plates back on, then bend them all to screw them back into the orange plates.
The 20 "batteries" shown with their electrical tabs bent down, and the hardware I took off to get that far. All the battery pack required for this much disassembly was a 10 mm hex socket and a phillips screw driver.
When you put it back together, watch out for the four bolts that go from the control panel into the batteries, the ones hidden behind the rubber plugs, I shocked myself by holding the lower left bolt and then the bolt closest to the middle. It was definitely more than a standard 9V battery shock, but way less than sticking a knife in a 110V 15 Amp outlet. Honestly the dead battery pack might only have like 3-4 amps at this point at 144 volts, assuming that I got the full brunt of the battery pack, not some subset. Remember, it's the amps that kill not the volts.
Showing the recessed bolts that might shock you.
The process to replace the battery itself was very strait forward, it followed the Bumblebee video exactly, there were no design changes that were different between the video and my car. Would I do it again? Well, my parents recently bought a 2014 Prius C and I would be interested down the line to try and replace that hybrid battery. In other words, yes I would do it again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 234

234 weeks?! Assuming I only live 4680 weeks (90 years) that's 5% of my life.

Well, it was a pretty busy week of meetings at work. I'm not sure how much I actually accomplished, but I went to lots of meetings. It is hard to tell sometimes how much a meeting is worth. Sometimes the value of a single meeting exceeds everything else done in the day because of five minutes of decision making. Other times, so many people are disengaged that you have to question the point of having all of these people at the meeting.

For the record, I'm going to do a little writing over Christmas and New Year's break, so there might be a few longer blog posts here. If you couldn't tell, blogging has not been on the top of my mind the last couple months.

I only ran 20 miles this week because I pulled my right hamstring on Monday, and then again six days later on Sunday. Grrr! I mean, I've been in this injury cycle all year. 12 months without a single training week of 80 miles or more and I have only ran four races in the past year, and two of them were not pretty. The good news is I am strong, if I can only get healthy now...

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Injury Cycle and Mental Joy

The injury cycle means never getting to 100% training load because of reopening old injuries or compensating and creating new ones. The injury cycle is not fun. 

It's funny. In the depths of our despair we only see what we want to see. Whereas during our moments of triumph we see everything. Okay that's not strictly true. In part during our triumphs we may forget the hard times and take our success for granted, because we have earned it, which is of course missing the point. 

I like mountaineering so much because it's hard and even on the best day I never feel like I conquered anything but rather took advantage of a brief opportunity. Similarly, that's what I have realized my running life is. My sophomore and junior year in college I had 15 consecutive personal records in races. I took it for granted every race would be a new best. In the past two years I have only really had 24 hour and 50 mile personal records. And now I sit here on my couch with a sore right hamstring. 

It feels like my body is betraying me. I like to think I usually learn from my injuries but I am starting to wonder. 

I read an article recently about Mother Teresa:

A similar story is told in the Bible in Job, and if you ever want to be a little more minalist read Ecclesiastes. The point being, it's not all about our "triumphs", that's a pretty shallow view on life, because "there is nothing new under the sun". There is legitimate joy in suffering. Rather more specifically, knowing suffering is temporary and will teach us patience, perseverance, character and hope enables us to enjoy situations that we despise. As I often say while suffering in terrible weather on a mountain, "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun".

Friday, December 18, 2015

Another Reason the Like Helicopters...

It's a video, from 1980 I think:

Helicopters man... 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Slow to Make Decisions

Sometimes I take years to make a decision. I suppose that is a "luxury" of growing and maturing into an adult. Rather, it is quite painful to make some decisions because the opportunity cost is so high. 

I was watching a movie recently and it had a mob scene, broken by the protagonist. The question hanging in my head during that scene was why didn't anyone take a minute, an hour, and think about what they were about to destroy? Was the tension building for so long the anger couldn't be paused?

Which brings up a good point, anger, while useful and appropriate at times, is something to be expressed with patience. 

I'm not saying that we should delay making decisions, because action is warranted often. Also, we are often on track to make a good decision, but fear holds us back from taking that final leap, or the final "one small step...", into the unknown. So make that decision and get on with life! Still, patience seems to be a never ending lesson, and at times appropriate, and warranted when making a decision.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

8000 Meters...

It's a distance I raced many times in college, now I think of it in terms of altitude above sea level for 14 mountains. In some respects both require lots of leg and lung strength to make it to the end, but one is more dangerous, and you could say more interesting because it is not so simple. Just a thought for the day...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Think I Pulled My Hamstring

I'm not joking. I was doing strides, rather I was building speed into my first stride after my run last night and suddenly the outside middle of my right hamstring went from fine to not fine in the fraction of a second. I know why sprinters stop now instead of finish the race, it's fairly painful. Mine isn't so bad, I can walk without a limp, but it is serious, I probably won't be running today.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 233

If I were to describe this week in a word in my own head that word would be: depressing. "Why?" You ask. That is an excellent question. I have learned that reality and our perception of reality do not always line up, in fact sometimes they are downright conflicting. I think I found this week depressing because I've spent so much time traveling the last two weeks that I did not feel like I was really contributing to designing anything, which is my job. On top of that I have gotten all of the sleep I could use, and it began to affect my running. Also, the traveling I did this week was rather last minute and I suppose I went into it with a negative attitude. It went excellently, so again reality and my perception weren't exactly lining up. 

Monday and Tuesday I was in Milwaukee. Very interesting to see what I did. We were doing some testing, that went better than expected. I have learned when we are testing something that I want to be there to look at results when it is finished because if there is any issue, at all, I can help problem solve. There were no issues this time, which of course is a great thing.  However, travel began to wear on me and Tuesday I only ran three miles because I was tired.

Wednesday I went over to Waterloo for some drivetrain engineering training. The frustration I had was that I only found out about it Friday afternoon. Sure, give me less notice, and no agenda... Great start. However the actual training was really good. The hard part was watching 1/3 to 1/2 of the small class on their laptops or otherwise disengaged from the lesson. Here are interesting stories from experienced people and we're barely paying attention! The positive side was learning about a number of the innovations my company has had in the past that allowed certain machines to be possible, in particular a tractor that goes 30 mph. Unfortunately I didn't run Wednesday, because I was tired and felt a cold coming on. It may have been my first day off in 32 days, but because I was supposed to run, it feels bad not to.

Thursday and Friday I was in the office, which almost seems like vacation some days.  In fact! You could say I got a present Thursday and Friday! I won't go into details but two giant 8 x 10 foot boxes full of expensive steel assemblies from a potential supplier make for a lot of engineering fun!

I didn't get sick, in fact my runs went really well the end of the week. I did a monster workout Friday five intervals, a total of 5.46 miles in 32:12, within a ten mile run. Then Saturday morning, just 16 hours later I did 21 miles with a huge negative split. Both of those runs were made better by running on Friday with a few people from the local Loras college team and Saturday a couple people from the University of Dubuque. Running partners certainly make running better. In a way much of this year's training has been a struggle for me because I have had the least consistent training partners of any time the last five years. It's amazing how seriously one mile of company on a run makes the other nine miles feel easier.

Saturday I went out for sushi with a couple friends, nothing big, but always nice to do a little socializing. 

So the week ended really well. I was just really beat down in the middle of it, and I've learned that emotional waves usually don't change overnight but go up and down gradually. I mean, I have the best life in the world, and sometimes I just need to be reminded. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Get Busy Living..."

If the Shawshank Redemption isn't a great movie... Then there is no such thing as a great movie!

I was rather convinced of going on an adventure over thanksgiving, but then I went back to work, got a little wore down, and spent time doubting. It's fascinating, and very frustrating, how doubt creeps into our heads. We stare across the room at a girl, get up the nerve to walk over, and then detour at the last second because we get scared again that like all the girls before her, she's going to reject us. It's not a positive spiral. I have an image in my head for the positivity and negativity spiral, at some point I'll put it all down on paper. The point is doubt creeps in and keeps most of us from reaching our potential. 

We feel the need to stay with our sunk costs instead of appreciating the opportunity cost of a new endeavor. Point being, I need to get busy living, and maybe you do too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Going to Sleep Early

What does going to sleep early mean? 

For me, it may mean I am sick, or about to get sick. It may mean I have been running and training especially hard. It may be because I have been traveling and missing sleep. It could be from the winter, who is motivated to go for a run totally in the dark and cold after a long day at work? I think it's a phase too, some sort of biological clock that is a function of all the above. I worry sometimes it's a symptom of something bigger.

I went to sleep at 7:30 last night, and I haven't been up past 9:30 since getting back from Germany, I'm exhausted. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Paying Into Other Local Economies

One thing that I always enjoy when traveling is putting money into other (not my) local economies. Some of the places I travel to are not doing as well as little old Dubuque Iowa. Even though the majority of the money goes into the service industry, for restaurants and hotels, it's still going into economies that don't have the benefit of my business year round. This year in particular a lot of money has been paid into other economies on my behalf.

It's certainly not charity, the people and companies earn that money. It often strikes me as strange how the little things, like a hotel, or a coffee shop open before 7 AM, seem so convenient when I am traveling. It's like they knew I was coming and they rolled out the red carpet.
Seriously, Red Carpet in my Milwaukee Hotel Today

Monday, December 7, 2015

I Live in Iowa: Week 232

This was a good week! For starters I was sleep deprived and caffeinated in Germany most of the week. While not exactly an easy trip, it was fun. Of course, I describe trips to Louisiana and Atlanta as fun too, really there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of difference to me. The language barrier certainly matters, but I am 12% fluent in German, so you'd better worry that I start blogging in German soon. (Haha!)

Seriously though, the two and a half days of meetings in Germany went really well. I was dubious that we would get the value out of this trip that sending five engineers to Germany for a week is worth. I was pleasantly surprised, we made significant progress on a wide range of issues. We even discussed issues that were not on the agenda, that were unexpected.

We didn't have any time to really be tourists, so Friday morning I woke up at 5 AM and took the first ferry to Switzerland for a 6.5 mile run, and then returned on the ferry back to Germany. I did not realize that Lake Constance is on the border of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, quite the border. Here is a little 23 second video of the ferry from Switzerland arriving in the Friedrichshafen, Germany harbor.

Despite not sleeping at all Monday night, I managed to sleep the other nights enough to recover, stay healthy, and still run about 63 miles, about half a mile farther than last week. That includes two long runs, including a strenuous 20 miler with 4.3 miles of 6 minute pace intervals in there, and 11 of those miles with a little white dog named Coco that lives on a farm near Durango, Iowa. The crazy part, that dog ran 20 miles with a bicyclist on Friday!

Saturday was the company Christmas party, which was fun, but I was so tired from Germany and my 20 mile run I left at about 8:30 pm. Overall, quite the good week, but I'm still tired, and writing this from a hotel in Milwaukee, on a business trip, again.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Switzerland makes 15 countries I have visited! (USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Pakistan, UAE, Nepal, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Belgium, Italy, South Korea, and Japan came first.) I only actually took one picture coming into the Romanshorn dock, and a couple little videos. The thing about new countries is they seem less different the more you have seen other ones. 
It was so foggy I never had more than a half mile visibility, plus the sun was not up yet, so no great images of the Alps.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Proprietary Experiences?

Well, part of a business trip is that some of the most investing stuff is proprietary. That means that the cool things I saw and learned are not the kind of things I can share. Thus no pictures. Well, part of that is the fog too. It's been pretty foggy and I've only seen the Alps for about five minutes in the early dawn and I wasn't thinking about my camera at the time.

Are experiences proprietary? Can they be? Are the things I have learned on this trip and the memories I have made things that belong to the company and not things I can willfully share? Certainly there is a certain about of discretion and allowable ambiguity. I'm an engineer, we looked at graphs and tables. Another example, I will say that I saw prototype cars, but it would probably be too much to say any more than that, such as their brands or what type of car they were. I will say, changing subjects, Germany is full of German cars, and yet they gave us two Ford rentals.

Point being, of an experience, a memory, something now totally within my mind, but including many other people, how much of it is mine, and how much of it is not mine? It's an interesting question.

One little experience I can share, as I was running this morning a lady ran past me the opposite direction and said "Morgen" as in "Morning" short for "Good morning" or "Guten morgen" and I said "Morgen" back. I find that maybe 70% of early morning runners say some variation on "Good morning" when they pass each other. My personal theory is that it is a way to deflect a possible negative interaction by starting a friendly interaction with the person.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Completely Foreign and Totally the Same

The largest line for lunch in our supplier's cafeteria today was for currywurst, bratwurst with curry powder and some ketchup. You will never find curry mentioned in the United States anywhere except an Indian or Thai restaurant in the United States (unless you live in an area that prides itself on being different, like New York or the SF Bay area). It was served with French fries. You will find French fries everywhere in the United States. The meal was completely foreign to me, and yet totally the same.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

First Run in Germany

I haven't slept in something like 32 hours, but I did run five miles around Friedrichshafen, Germany this evening. Hopefully I can run or visit in Austria and/or Switzerland before this trip is over, because I have not been to either. Switzerland is a short ferry ride away and Austria is 26 km one way, so possibly a long run.