Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Un-Sleep Clinic

For a number of years now, I've had trouble sleeping.

Not the relatively common sleep apnea, but something else.  Something strange that I couldn't identify.  Sleeping drugs helped, but always seem to leave me feeling groggy the next day.  I decided I needed to understand the root cause of the problem, and hopefully that will lead to some kind of improvement in my sleep.

You see, I can get to sleep without difficulty.  The issue is staying asleep.  This started years ago, and probably was the result of my preferred sleep position -- on my stomach with arms above my head.  I'd wake up during the night with an arm (or two) asleep or a sore back, then roll over.  Again and again.

Later, when I couldn't last long in this position (even though when first getting in it, it feels soooo good), I started sleeping on my sides.

A few months ago, I hurt my right shoulder (long story, but nothing terribly serious) and was left with only one side to sleep on.  During the night, however, I continued to rotate into one of the now several positions that leave me in pain in short order.  The number of times I was waking up has been increasing, quality of sleep is decreasing.

Eventually, I started wondering if there might be "something else" going on, hence my trip to the Sleep Clinic last night.

If you're already having trouble sleeping, the Sleep Clinic is definitely not someplace where you're going to do better than average.  In fact, my night's sleep was quite a bit worse.

I arrived at 8:40, at which time the technician told me they were having "computer problems" and the whole thing might have to be cancelled.  He asked me to hang loose, and he'd let me know in a little while.  So I sat in quiet room reading until about 9:40, at which time he returned saying everything was "fixed."  It was then we began the preparations.

There were 6-8 probes glued to my head above the hairline, and another 9-10 placed around my neck and face.  The wires were all gathered and bundled behind my head, making me feel like I'd just had wire hair extensions added for the night.  Additionally, there were four probes on my legs, and two on my chest that were all gathered into the bundle.  I also had a chest strap and a belly strap wrapped around my torso -- snug, but not uncomfortable.  The final dressing was a sensor that went between my nose and mouth -- taped down and then looped around my ears -- and an oxygen sensor on my right index finger.

I was firmly attached to the instrumentation.  In fact, there were so many wires glued/stuck on me that I wondered if someone pulled hard enough, would I lift off the ground?

Sitting in the chair, none of this seemed "that bad," but under the covers it was a different story.

As an "active sleeper," I normally change positions at least a dozen times a night and often more.  But with all these wires attached to me, it was quite difficult to move.  I turned off the light at 10:30, but figure it took at least an hour -- and several awkward repositionings -- to doze off for the first time.  I ended up waking fully every time I needed to shift around -- the number of times I did that, I hesitate to estimate.  Suffice it to say "a lot" would be in the ballpark.  I remember thinking at one point that I would never get to sleep, and at another point just wishing the night was over and I was on my way home, no matter how tired I'd feel.

Nevertheless, I was sound asleep when the tech came to tell me it was time to get 5AM!  I showered, dressed and drove home in a bit of a fog.

Might be a good Saturday for an afternoon nap.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In a Funk.

I found out a couple of days ago that my favorite boss of all time recently passed away.  This man was a great supporter and a mentor to me.  He certainly had a greater influence on my career and my management style than any other person I ever worked with.  I recall here just a few of his humorous (but often ironically accurate) sayings:

"...that's like drinking your own bathwater."
"Add a little fresh thinking to everything you do."
"They say there are no bad deals, only bad prices.  I'm here to tell you thay're wrong."
"I love it when the facts agree with my preconceived notions."
"I consider myself vertically and diametrically challenged."

In later years, I drifted apart from this friend.  There were times when I thought about him and wondered how life was treating him.  More frequently, I applied some of the lessons he taught me while giving a silent nod in his direction.

But I didn't go far enough.  I didn't look him up.  Didn't call.  Didn't make that greater effort to try to stay in touch.

Now it's too late, and I'm left with only regrets about what I should have done.

Monday, April 29, 2013

First Evening Fishing of the Season

One of the great pleasures of living on a lake, is sizing up the current weather, and walking down to the dock to cast a line into the murky depths.  Tonight was the first time this season that I wet a lure.  Alas, without a nibble.  As my brother would say:  "tonight the fish won."

I was joined by Candace, Sarah and Thomas, all of whom lasted approximately five minutes when nothing was hooking itself to their Zebco poles.  They, however, companionably stayed with me while I continued fishing, tossing rocks into the water, and trying (with some success) to snatch flies out of midair.

Even without any success, I love hearing the frogs croak, the birds chirp, and seeing deer in the distance, making their way from their hidey-holes deep in the trees toward unplowed fields searching for the last remnants of last year's crop.

And all was right with the world.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Doing the Teaching Thing...

I've been teaching a class at Creighton this semester, and that has put a pinch on my available time for other activities.  This blog has been one of the casualties.

Time to actually be at the class has been stolen from my time at work.  Time to prepare for the class has come from my writing time.

Now, I find I'm counting down the days until the end of the semester, when I will get that time back.

Not that there haven't been rewarding aspects to the class.  I enjoy the interaction with the students -- they are enthusiastic about soon starting their careers, and are looking forward to finishing school (they are all seniors).  They have interesting, and sometimes odd, takes on the world.  For example, in their world, Apple Inc. is taking over and is ultra-popular, whereas in my world, they are a quirky company with a failed computer business model and were only able to survive and thrive by releasing a series of very successful consumer electronics products.

But preparation is a huge drag.  I spend close to five hours per case reading and preparing my teaching plan. And there are two classes per week, so with the travel time, office time, grading time and everything else, I'm spending close to fifteen hours a week on this "hobby."  It is seeming a lot more like "work" than "fun."

And I never worked so cheap in my life.  The compensation is, to put it mildly, pathetic.

So, I'm now contemplating -- if asked -- would I agree to do this again.  Do the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Professor Spears

A few people have asked me how the teaching gig at Creighton is going thus far, and I thought I'd respond here.

It's been quite a few years since I read/reviewed cases, and had somewhat forgotten how much work it can be.  Every case that I'm teaching this semester is new to me, and while many of them have teaching notes (that help the instructor distill the teaching points, and develop a lesson plan), about a third don't.  So I'm spending quite a bit of time preparing for class.  Definitely more than I expected.  I guess there will be a payoff if I decide to teach the course again.

There are a lot of things to juggle during the class session.  Attendance, keeping track of class participation, making notes on the case opening, getting the next lesson ready (including the "teaser" questions), and finding volunteers for the next case opening.  I've tried to be very thorough in my prep, but it still seems like I forget something I wanted to do or say during each class.

The students have been fun to interact with -- most don't appear to be bored, and they are clearly learning new things.  This is the first experience with the case method for most, so I'm sure it is a little confusing and intimidating right now.

But I can see they (and I) am going to need a break here or there.  I've now lined up three top shelf outside speakers to come and address the class on some aspect of strategy that they've dealt with in their business careers.  I'm sure that will be a nice change of pace.

Overall, the jury is still out as to my long term interest in continuing to pursue teaching.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Just in case my plate wasn't full enough (and believe me, it was), I've agreed to teach a course as an Adjunct Instructor next semester at Creighton University's College of Business.

Many moons ago, when I began this career transition, teaching at the college level was one of the things I had on my list of potential jobs to explore.  While I must admit I haven't been super-diligent about following up everything on the list -- conducting more of a search for serendipity than a targeted and exhaustive exploration of all options -- when this opportunity basically dropped into my lap, I wanted to take the time to give it a real try.

The course I'll be teaching is one required for seniors called BU 471:  Strategic Management.  One of the other instructors in the department described the course as a "capstone" -- which means it is used to pull concepts together from a number of specific disciplines into an integrated subject.

The course is taught using the case method -- the same method I used during my MBA -- and I think that cases are a well-suited way to cover subjects that aren't particularly cookie-cutter.

So I'm excited about the opportunity, and also a little nervous as I've never tried this type of challenge before.  While I'm pretty comfortable with the subject -- Strategy -- I'm not so familiar with working in the University environment.

It should be...educational.  Both for me and the students!