Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pass on it!

I spotted the following drivel being passed around on face book today.

"Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401ks, took trillions in taxpayer funded bail outs, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither.... Pass it on."

(sorry, I noted the image didn't fit properly on my blog, so I included the text)
Which inspired the following response:

I don’t either.

I do, however, remember when teachers and public employees captured unreasonable pensions and pay increases from taxpayers through lob-sided union negotiations.

I also seem to recall Planned Parenthood being the focal point of an abortion/murder business.

It seems to me I recall NPR and PBS being politically slanted, yet publically funded entities taking advantage of their taxpayer funded bully pulpit to spread their agenda.

Oh, and I seem to remember the stock market crashed because of loose home mortgage practices encouraged by several administrations and politicians on both sides of the aisle. Oddly enough, I too had money in the same market which also was pummeled during the crash.

And didn’t the billions (not trillions) lent to banks in the height of the crisis actually stop a meltdown of the banking system, and the occurrence of another Great Depression. And I seem to recall the majority of the borrowers have already paid back the money they borrowed.

It seems to me the oil spill in the Gulf, which was indeed tragic, is one of the risks we take to enjoy the benefits of a modern economy. We could all avoid the risks if we just gave up our cars, and other energy gobbling conveniences. I don’t, however, recall BP being happy or flippant about the situation.

Last time I checked, boards and shareholders give corporate employees their bonuses. It seems they have this crazy notion that paying competitively to attract top talent is important to their long term success. If you’re not a shareholder, I’m not sure why you care anyway, other than pure envy. Oh, and bonuses were severely limited while any of the “bailout” funds were still borrowed by the large banks during the crisis.

And what world do you live in where you believe people at the top of the economic pyramid pay no taxes? That’s an urban myth. Wealthy people pay the vast majority of federal income taxes, and plenty of other taxes, too. Sure, some foreign corporations pay little U.S. tax – they pay in their home countries.

The persistent desire people from both sides of the aisle seem to have to communicate in sound bites, and not thoughtfully consider their outlandish statements drives me crazy… Pass on it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Big Adoption News!

After almost a year of waiting, two fingerprints appointments, piles of documents, dozens of notarizations, and thousands of dollars, we finally heard today from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia. They are ready for our appointment to get our son's passport and green card, and bring him back home.

Just two weeks and we'll be on an airplane heading there, and the long and difficult wait will be over.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Running Slower

I started running ten years ago, during the summer of 2001. Prior to that, my only running experience was eighth grade cross country -- where I was probably in the lower quartile (I don't remember for sure), and found the experience to be painful and frustrating.

I tried running again twenty three years later, more as a way of quickly burning calories than anything else. Yes, it still hurt a bit, and I wasn't particularly good at it (story of my life when it comes to athletics), but I found a certain personal challenge that revved me up. I was hooked, and worked hard to improve my form, economy and times.

I ran in my first race that fall -- a 10K. I remember being happy to finish it in less than an hour. I really liked the racing aspect of running. It wasn't like I was going up against elite athletes, or anything. I enjoyed the social elements, and competing against my own times.

My high water mark from a race performance standpoint was in 2005, when I ran the Chicago Marathon. I think at least half of my race personal records are from that year. Even though I trained more miles for some future marathons, I was never able to equal my performance in that race. Alas, it was a mere six minutes short of qualifying for Boston.

I kept reaching for better times until the fall of 2009, when I started to have some serious problems with my left knee. After going through denial, I eventually had to cut my mileage way back. It's taken me a year and a half, but the knee is again solid, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with running going forward.

I wouldn't say the enjoyment is over, but I definitely don't look forward to a ten miler with the same degree of excitement, and sometimes it seems like a downright chore. Unfortunately, I'm much slower than I was before -- my 2001 beginner self could probably beat my experienced 2011 self in a race right now. So where from here? It seems, inch by inch, I'm leaving the ranks of (semi) competitive racing, and rolling into the casual runner ranks -- with lower miles, no speed work, and slower paces. Getting older sucks.

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Update on my Career Transition

It's launch plus fourteen and a half months, and it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on where I've been since leaving the corporate world.

I've definitely chucked corporate life for good -- it feels (and sounds) a little like kicking a drug habit. I received a call from a recruiter today for a position that would have been perfect for my background, and was able to send him on his way (with a handful of potential candidates) without a regret. I simply have no desire to get back into a big organization with all its politics, illogic, stupid/impossible standards, and long hours.

Of course, I am on my own methadone, so to speak. I have a minor investment in a small manufacturing company, and go to the office once or twice a week to check the numbers, and work on small projects of my own selection. I consider it nice variety, and enjoy the interaction with the people, without having the day to day stress of a big corporate job.

Writing has emerged as my other passion -- which shouldn't be any great surprise to me, I suppose. From the beginning, it appeared in my wild lists of futures for my life, and had been an interest indulged in my "spare time" before I quit my full time job. I have five books in some stage of development (all the way from "done and looking for a publisher" to "completed first draft"), and there are two more on the drawing boards. I try to find some time each day to design, write or edit.

Before I left work, I also thought I might become involved in something philanthropic. I'm still slowing finding my way along this dimension, but I'm a lot further along than I was a year and a quarter ago. My charitable work will somehow involve the intersection of my faith, my interest in bringing clean water to the poor, and the country where my adopted children are from -- Ethiopia. I'm trying to continue listening and keeping my eyes open for the right opportunities.

An additional benefit of my new lifestyle has been spending lots of time with my children and spouse -- probably sometimes more than they want! I feel much more engaged with my family, and much less distracted by other things, even though sometimes I'm still guilty of zeroing in on one task to the exclusion of all else.

The journey continues to be stimulating and also challenging, and I'm very happy I decided to make this gut-wrenching change to my life.