Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Colorado Startup Life: Week 19

I ran 35 miles this week! WOOHOO!! To give you an idea of how big that is, it's my first week over 25 miles since the world championships in Croatia, where I ran 25 miles in the race, and it's way over 25 miles. I ran with a coworker on Friday for the first time who is training for the Boston Marathon, he's a 2:58 marathoner, ran at altitude too. He is going to be the perfect person to help get me back towards the kind of shape I simply like being in. And hopefully I can help get him under 2:55, or maybe even 2:50.

Work was an exciting week! We had a potential customer come on Tuesday and were able to do a full power test on demand! It's the first time we have done that, and it's a huge step. It's something we will need to do more often in the future. After the successful test we went out to a microbrewery and there were a lot of smiles in our little company of 31 people. We did it! People may not have heard of us, but for a small sum of money we developed something that has in the past taken companies much more money and time to develop.

I went on a third date, and I thought it was going well, but she was not romantically attracted to me, so that was it. Dating... I'm going to keep blogging about my love life, because frankly, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Saturday I skied Winter Park again with another coworker and his wife. Wow, people that have skied since they were kids are so good! They gave me some tips on moguls and made my bumps go even smoother. That puts me at five days of alpine touring, six days of resort skiing (my goal is at least ten days to "pay for" my ski pass), and one day of cross country skiing.

Also, I went January without drinking, and Tuesday the 15th was the hardest evening. This experiment started because my sister and I drank a fair amount over Christmas and our parents made one too many jokes at our expense I decided I needed to prove to myself that I wasn't an alcoholic, and I don't think I am, but it can be hard to really really know for sure. I usually drink a glass of wine or two before I go to bed. Going without I had trouble falling asleep at 9:30 and stayed awake to 11 pm more times than I would like. Funny enough, I just kind of don't know what to do at 8 pm when dinner is done, I'm showered, and ready for a little sitting around. It's so convenient to have a glass of alcohol. After the third week, my routing basically just became drinking milk or water. I should weight myself to see if I lost any weight.

I hope you had a good week.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Colorado Startup Life: Week 18

The highlight at work was hitting full power for over a minute! It took hundreds of tests to get to this point, but now we are there. It's exciting to be a company as it tests and soon releases it's first product. For many things, we have no precedent. We're either copying what another company did, or making it up as we go along. This program will be the precedent in the future, for future programs, so every time we do something there is an unspoken question, 'do we want this to be the standard?' Often we ask that question out loud too.

I ran only 13 miles, but I'll take it. Man, getting back in shape is hard! Below is my running and hiking mileage over the past 12 months. You can see, when the pulmonary embolism started in late March my running dropped off a cliff, and spent seven months below 50 miles per month, that's like 1.5 miles per day! Yeah, it's going to be hard to build up mileage on my 32.5 year old body while living at 5000 feet. Below 300 miles per month I don't have much reason to race, because I know I just won't be in 2:40 marathon type shape.

I went on two second dates this week. Both went well... And stay tuned for more news on that front.

My coworkers and I skied Winter Park on Saturday, which was quite nice. I'm getting better at moguls, which are a lot of fun when you can do them well. Going down a groomed run just isn't very challenging. It's also a great skill for backcountry skiing because it helps you learn how to turn quickly.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Colorado Startup Life: Week 17

January 6th to 12th. It was a good week. I ran 22.7 miles and went on two first dates. My sister is now engaged, and I'm feeling a bit left out in the family because of her and most of my cousins are engaged or married, and I'm the oldest. It's like my love life is an extreme example in patience. I just want to cuddle sometimes!

 The new design I started from scratch before Christmas at work solidly moved forward. We also reached a new high power level on our current product! With the scatter in the data, we actually hit our goal! ... for a few milliseconds.

Life continues and I'm not as motivated to blog regularly as I was in Iowa.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Financial Independence and the 2019 Government Shutdown

Financial independence is the concept that if you save up enough money, usually 25 times your annual spending (300 times your monthly spending) and you should be good (about a 97% chance of success) to live off your investments (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) indefinitely. I'm working toward that goal, not so that I can quit working, but so that I can pursue the most meaningful work I am skilled at, regardless of the pay or security. Quick tangent, when you read about needing to have 10-11 times your expenses saved at retirement that estimate is based on you spending 70-80% of what you did preretirement and collecting social security, and retiring in your mid to late 60s.

With 800,000 direct government workers, and a large number of contractors out of work, and not receiving a pay check on January 11th, the stories in the news are starting to pile up of people not able to pay their bills, from missing one pay check. It makes me sad. I can also related because in 2010, I went pretty low financially. Fortunately my family more or less bailed me out, or rather threw me a life vest so I stayed afloat. Even considering my frugality since then, if my startup went under and I was not paid any more, I would only last a few months before I would have to start selling stocks and withdrawing from my retirement funds, especially considering I've been spending a lot more money living here in Colorado than I did in Iowa or Kansas.

In short, now is the time to think about your financial future. Layoffs happen all the time, SpaceX just announced they are laying off 10% of the company despite continually growing, General Motors is laying off thousands of people despite large sales numbers the last few years. The economy is really good now, so it's not a bad time to be laid off, but then again, there is never a good time. Suicides are guaranteed to increase due to these things like layoffs and the government shutdown. They won't be in the news because they happen one at a time, and there are often other contributing factors, like a broken relationship, but money often plays a role. Point being, for my peer readers around 30 years old, now is a great time to put a little money away for a rainy day. What if this shutdown plunges us into a recession, and you get laid off? Interest rates are a quarter point away from being a very inverted yield curve, which signals recession.

As a disclaimer, I realize that I'm a single 32 year old white male who works in technology and makes more money than most, and saving some money is easier for me than a 35 year old single mother who is a high school teacher. In other words, if you are saving say 10% of your income in a retirement account, and then living pay check to pay check, you're actually saving somewhat more money than most, and technically, "saving" money in social security with every pay check too. In other words, saving $1,000 in a savings account can go a long way, yet I understand for many people how difficult that actually is. My favorite charity, Give Directly, gives people in Kenya $22 a month, and it changes their lives. Many of those people will never have $1,000.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Colorado Startup Life: Week 16

Last week was good (December 30th to January 5th). It started with an attempt on Sunshine Peak near Lake City, but due to avalanche danger at treeline I turned around and it didn't happen. And of course, that's okay. I had a bit of a sore throat from camping in the -4F weather the night before, so I headed back to Longmont.

I basically sat on the couch the next couple days. That's not totally accurate, on New Year's Eve I went rock climbing with an Iowa friend and then hung out in downtown Denver with my Iowa friend and his girlfriend. It was funny, around 10:30 we left the party and after one more drink at his sister's apartment, we went to bed before midnight. #gettingold

Work was quiet this week. It was only three days of work, and many people were still out on vacation. That big redesign I talked about started going much better. I did some FEA and it converged and the results were positive. The new design has fewer parts, is more conventional, and uses some off the shelf parts that are cryogenic capable.

Ran 19.9 miles this week, and my goal for January is 150 miles. I'm behind schedule on that but I did 56 in November and 100 in December, and stepping up by 50 miles a month doesn't seem too difficult. After Sunshine Peak, and then rock climbing, it appears I strained my right pectoral muscle. Who does that?! And I have a blister on my right foot now. Fortunately the pectoral has recovered due to self massage and not much rock climbing, but the blister is still an issue.

Fun fact, I'm getting paid... because working at a series A funded startup is more stable than the United States government?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

New Year's Resolutions

Wednesday, at work my boss came past my desk area and asked if anyone wanted to go to lunch. We all brought our lunch, and then he complained in a jocular tone that everyone's new year's resolutions were to eat better, because people that sit in our adjacent area had new year's resolutions to eat better.

Thursday another two more of my coworkers mentioned something about new year's resolutions and several others chimed in, at which point I finally spoke up and said that I was happy that I worked with people that made new year's resolutions and talked about them. Everywhere else I have worked people that admit to having new year's resolutions are the minority.

Why do I like new year's resolutions? I like when people talk about their goals, that way I can maybe help support them. The process for doing just about anything goes like this:
  1. Think about doing it.
  2. Talk about doing it.
  3. Doing it.
When people don't have any goals, relationship or process related goals, or the traditional achievement goals, I don't know how to relate or how to support that person. It's okay to fail in your goals. A goal of mine in 2017 was finish my private pilot's license. I had the same goal in 2018 and now the same goal in 2019. I think this will finally be the year, haha... hopefully.

Point being, a year is a nice span of time to accomplish a moderate sized goal. When others are trying to accomplish a goal we can support each other so hopefully we all make our goals. So why not make a goal? If you fail, well you failed. I suggest setting multiple goals of varying difficulty so that you will probably accomplish some of them. For example, in 2018 I wanted to get back into aerospace, and now I am. I wanted to go to the 100k world championships, and I did. 

What are my goals for 2019?
  • Finish my private pilot's license.
  • Get my weight under 135 lbs. (I'm at 145 lbs. now tied for the heaviest I have ever been with my freshman year of college, thanks to a lackluster running career in 2018 and some upper body rock climbing muscle. In all my best races I have been under 130 lbs. but I don't absolutely need to get back to being that light, because it's not actually about the specific number on the scale. This is really more of a process goal, about eating well and exercising quite a bit. Ending the year at 137 lbs. and very strong might be a total success, or similarly 133 lbs. and very weak would be a failure. And don't expect me to blog about this at all, I know how most people get offended when I talk about wanting to lose a few pounds. For the record I've never had an eating disorder, but many friends of mine have, and for that reason you will never find me less than 120 lbs. (that would be a BMI less than 20) even if I was offered $1 million running contract per year.)
  • Running goals:
    • January: 150 miles
    • February: 200 miles
    • March: 250 miles
    • April: 300 miles
    • May: hummm... think about racing
    • Maybe a trail 100 mile race?
    • Definitely going to take an attempt at Nolan's 14 this summer if my running comes around.
  • Save up enough money to either buy a car or go on an expedition (around $15,000).
  • Climbing goals:
    • Lead a beginners Mount Rainier trip.
    • Trad climb 5.10 a couple times.
    • Do a big route at Red Rocks this year.
    • Finish the Colorado 14ers, I have 26 left.
  • Relationship goals:
    • Visit my grandparents more than 2018 or 2017.
    • Go on some dates (I have one Thursday).
    • Get to some sort of relationship status with a female...
    • Host someone overnight at my apartment every month. (I'm paying a few hundred dollars a month for that second bedroom I rarely use, so it would be nice to have a few guests.)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Colorado Startup Life: Week 15

December 23rd to 29th... (because as randomly as I post it's easy to lose track of what week is what.)

Life is good. Life is good! I spent most of the week with my parents and sister in Wisconsin. Perhaps the last Christmas in Wisconsin as my dad is planning to retire from full time work and move to the west and south. On Monday my sister and I went with my mom to the cancer treatment center in Milwaukee so she could have chemo. The chemo has been two different types, and she is now about 2/3rds of the way through the second type of chemo. The first type was really harsh. My mom looked sick and tired all the time. This round of chemo she just looks a little tired, but not really sick any more. It's pretty exciting how much better she seems to be doing!

For years my immediate family has played games, like Monopoly at holidays. It's "fun". So after a little negative emotion at Thanksgiving I went out and bought Catan. We played several games while we were all home and it went really well! At least three of us won games. Depending on the board layout games took 45 minutes up to 2.5 hours, with each one being different. Plus, what I really like about the game is that everyone is in the game until it is won. Monopoly on the other hand is a process of elimination, where people lose one by one, which is kind of depressing. In other words, in Monopoly you win when everyone else has zero money. In Catan you win when you have ten points, even if the other people all have nine points or two points (you start with two points and they can't be taken away).

I ran 21.5 miles, and would have gone farther, but I came down with a little bit of a sore throat and I like to take it easy. So after flying back to Colorado on Thursday I spent basically all day Friday in my apartment watching Grey's Anatomy. Friday I ventured into the mountains, and didn't even make it to the trailhead of San Luis Peak.

I didn't really work this week. I did check into our company chat system a few times to see if anything happened, and except for a test on Christmas Eve Day which hit 96% power, nobody really worked the rest of the week. Our company doesn't have a formal shutdown or anything, and we only have five holidays I think, so everyone was just mutually using vacation.

When I made it back to colorado I did check in finally with the local airport flight school to start arranging flight lessons. I've talked to the instructor, his wife, and the front desk people, now, but nothing is scheduled yet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Winter 14ers are Super Hard

I tried to do San Luis Peak from the north, the standard summer route. I couldn't even get to the trailhead.
Snow Drift on the Road to San Luis Peak
I tried three times, in four low with the differential locked on the Toyota Sequoia I was borrowing from a coworker and still only made it maybe 15 feet into the 60 foot long drift. Fortunately I was able to back out every time. I was something like 25 miles down dirt roads at this point, with 10 miles remaining, which is pretty far out there as far as Colorado goes. So I turned around and headed out without trying to force myself through the drift. I didn't want to slide off the road to the left where the snow was most likely deeper.

The next day I tried to do Sunshine Peak after camping just south of Lake City. (I had a electrically heated blanket in the Sequoia and a -20F sleeping bag so the -4F temperatures overnight weren't too bad, I just had a sore throat the next morning.)

I followed tracks up to treeline at 11,800 feet, and then there was a small slope to cross, maybe 25 degrees steep, which is not very steep, and pretty low for avalanche danger. However, there was about a foot of moderately consolidated snow over a very weak layer at least six inches thick. Prime slab avalanche conditions. There was no sign of avalanche in the trees below me, however, the two people I was with at the moment did not have snow shoes or skis like I did, so I would have had to go on alone. It's not worth it. I skied up maybe 50 feet to a bit of whomp, whomp, whomp from the upper layer collapsing the lower layer, and my skis still sinking in six inches. Avalanches creep me out. So I headed down.

In Pakistan in 2009 I really liked how everyone was rather cooperative. After a snow storm we would wait one or two days for the snow to settle and avalanches to clear themselves. Everest is a little more hurried, people will climb the day after a snow storm instead of wait for the avalanches to clear. People die in avalanches every year. As frustrated as I get about failing to summit a mountain, I get even more frustrated when people take risks that seem excessive to me. There is always risk, and avalanche risk is a huge part of mountaineering, and the reason I will never try Annapurna.

Point being, stay safe people. The mountain will be there in the future, will you?