Sunday, May 30, 2010

Will work for sugar

With Ironman Coeur d'Alene scheduled during finals, I'm not taking any classes in the first summer session. Aside from training and a few side jobs I have going, I was concerned about sitting around the house for hours on end each day. I volunteered to help out the owner of the Eola School Brewery with some odd jobs for a few weeks.

The main job we're doing is adding a new roof to the school. My role is primarily moving stuff, holding stuff and getting yelled at (it's just like building something with my dad!) -- I've elected to stay away from the welder and hammer drill. Unfortunately, in this case "moving stuff" typically means hoisting steel c purlins and roofing sheets up 30 feet to the top of the building. Mark (the owner) is also particular about how things get done, which for some reason means he doesn't like pulleys or anything to give a mechanical advantage -- it's just two ropes and a pair of vise grips.

But things are coming along. Next time, I'll remember to bring my phone to the top of the roof to take a picture.

When I say I volunteered to help, I mean he is actually paying me, but not in any legitimate currency (I refused). Instead, I asked if he could pay me in maltodextrin -- something I use in my energy drinks to increase the caloric content. Normally that stuff is fairly expensive when it's marketed as "sports nutrition." But since he's a brewer, he has access to larger, cheaper quantities.

That said, I was still surprised when he presented me with my "payment" -- 50 pounds worth.

It might be hard for you to process how big a sack that is. For scale, here's a typical water bottle in which I add two or three ounces.

Hannah thinks we're going to be moving houses with this stuff. I think she's wrong. I think we're going to end up moving two houses with this stuff... if the ants don't get to it first.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A is for Anatomy and American History

...strangely enough, A is also for General Psychology and Math of Finance.

That's one semester down and things went pretty well. I'm not naive enough to think that past success is a definite indicator of future results, but I do recognize what worked from a study perspective to be able to use it to my advantage in the coming semesters. Unlike endurance sport, there's no advantage to going continuously "faster" in academics -- I'll settle for repeating my results.

I attribute my semester's success to three things:
  • Setting my day up like I was still at work: Between 8 a.m. and about 5 p.m., if I wasn't in class I was studying, reading or doing homework. That allowed me to get my "work" done and then have time to train, hang out with Hannah, etc. The only variation to this was on Tuesday, when I'd do my long bike ride during the day. That also freed up the weekend a bit.
  • Consistency: This goes hand in hand with my first point. I studied every day (except Saturday). Oddly, that actually helped my ability to recall information. Who knew? (I sure didn't the first go round 12 years ago).
  • Setting up a team and taking advantage of experts: Just like in sports, I set myself up with a good team and sought out mentors to help me along. My anatomy lab partner and I worked our way to the top two grades on the final (incidentally, the only two As on that test) and two of the 12 overall As in the class. I also took every opportunity to get additional help that was offered from professors and supplemental instruction.

I didn't intend to brag (really!) -- I just found it interesting that successful habits translate across disciplines. Again, who knew that stuff would work?

Thursday, May 06, 2010


This past weekend, Hannah installed a dishwasher. I dug a hole (no, not metaphorically). Can you tell which one of us has the engineering degree?

While there's a possibility that I could write a fascinating story about my hole, the practicality of that effort would be in question.

I'm sad to say I don't have a picture of my hole. We went and put a tree in it. And around that tree-filled whole we had some curbing added. So, between the dishwasher and front yard landscaping, you can guess how we've been spending our weekends.

The dishwasher -- part of my riveting series of home appliance photography

The tree-filled hole, complete with artistic looming shadow photographer.

On a potentially more interesting note, the semester is about to wrap up. I don't want to jinx anything going into finals, so I'll hold off on writing about how everything is going/went.