Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pressing On Revisited

A few days ago, I wrote about pressing on towards running a marathon before my 30th birthday. I had just made the decision to sign up for the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati. However, I quickly learned that sometimes greater plans might be in the works. Almost simultaneous to the decision to sign up for the marathon, I had an interesting experience in church. Here is an excerpt from an email communication:

I had a pretty cool experience yesterday. Jenn and I had gone to church in Lafayette on Saturday as part of our marriage class. On Sunday, she went with her parents to Chicago to see a play (it was their Christmas present to her). So I was pretty much planning to chill for the morning. However, about 10:15, I had this sense that maybe it would be a good idea to go to church again. My initial thought was the Methodist church that I went to in college. However, it was very close to 10:30 by the time it became clear to go to church so the next option was St. Joseph’s chapel at 11:00. So I’m sitting there in the chapel looking at the windows and paintings and Brother Tim comes up and says that he needed to contact me this week. He asked if I could be an adult leader for the Kairos retreat at the end of March. I’m extremely excited!

So the excitement kind of wore off when reality started to set in regarding the next few months. I mean, hello, Jenn and I are getting married! And there are still minor things like work, commuting, and the MBA program to balance as well. Something had to give. So after discussing with Jenn and a running friend, it made sense to shift the marathon out to the fall.

This still kind of fits into the theme of the original post, though, because it becomes part of an even longer term plan. It has also highlighted to me the need to listen to that still small voice and recognize that my plans might not always be the right plans.

Take care!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pressing On

Yesterday, I reached the 13 mile mark in my training for the marathon. This is an important milestone because it marks the half-way point. However, this year, I find this point particularly meaningful. Last year, I trained for and ran in the Sunburst half-marathon. However, I experienced some pretty painful shin splits for several weeks as the date of the half-marathon approached. At the time, I wrote, "But stepping out of the box can be risky. Actually, stepping out of the box is risky and opens up the door to failure, to pain." However, things get kind of boring without risks, without change. Last year, I set a goal to run a full marathon this year - before my 30th birthday. At the 13-mile point in training, I am shin split free so this in itself the most notable improvement over last year. With this improvement has come some new insights.

First, it really is important to set long-term goals and plan accordingly. This is very difficult for me because I like to be able to complete a short project and move onto something else. That is why the school environment worked so great for me. A new project or paper was always on the horizon. Each semester brought all new classes. However, a longer term perspective is important, too. Where am I going? From where have I come?

Second, rest is extremely important. The training schedule that I am using recommends rests on Monday and Friday. This is difficult. It is difficult to just rest. Yet, without this rest, injury is much more likely as I learned last year. The rest also provides a chance to regroup and regain some energy. Rest also been very difficult for me and I struggle with it all the time - just being able to sit back and relax.

So for this story and chapters to come, I am thankful.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


This morning in church, Gospel reading included one of the most significant understatements that I have ever read:

“He was hungry.” (Luke 4:2b, NKJV)

You have to be kidding me.

Jesus was starving.

(As I side note, I’ve read about fasting at some point and know that the body goes through all kinds of changes during these extended fasts. Bear with me, though, and allow some allowance of the italicized starving.)

He had been fasting for forty days in the wilderness.

Forty days.

I started thinking about times when I have been hungry for food.

Well, let’s face it. As some of you know, I am nearly always hungry.

And when I get really hungry, weird things start happening.

For example, one time spaghetti ended up in my back jeans pocket. Seriously. Okay, maybe that would be best to save for another day.

The other night, though, something happened that doesn’t make for a good story. I was hungry and cranky and a friend made some rather innocuous comment. I curtly and sarcastically replied, “No f-ing kidding.”

So I’m at church this morning reading this scripture passage and am just really amazed. Jesus doesn’t start acting all weird when he his hungry. He doesn’t even start dropping high-powered f-bombs.

Instead, he withstands the enticement of that wily tempter.

I don’t know about you, but I get pretty hungry. And I’m not just talking about food.

Unfortunately, these are the times when that wily tempter is right there ready to step in and reek some havoc.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

He Waited Up

So I ventured back to Bremen earlier this week to attend a meeting at the Bremen plant and also continue research regarding some problems in Lafayette. As an added bonus, I was able to spend time friends and family.

I left for Bremen right after class so I ended up driving up the lane to my parent's house just as the digital display reached midnight. As I walked up to the house, I noticed that the lights in the living room were still glowing bright. Upon opening the front door, I could even hear the TV. This was a bit surprising. The parents usually hit the hay in pretty good time - kind of like me (as Jenn pointed out last night). Anyway, Dad was still sitting in his chair awake. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "Well, I just wanted to make sure you got in okay."

Of course, this shouldn't have been surprising.

But, in a way, it was pretty awesome.

I mean, here I am getting very close to 30 and Dad waited up to make sure that I got in okay.

This meant a lot.

I kind of think this is a lot like God.

He waits up for us, too.

Thanks Dad.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fortune Cookies

We all have extraordinary coded within us, waiting to be released.

There is nothing permanent except change.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is it spiritual?

Last week, I read Seth Godin's blog post, Phoning It In, and some things started to make sense.

He poses the question, "But isn't your work spiritual?"

Time is short this morning, but the the quick answer is, "No."

I'm not sure what happened (or didn't happen) over the last few years, but the spiritual nature of work has, for the most part, vanished.

That is what makes work particularly trying right now.

Deep within there is a yearning for something more. As Seth writes, "an art form, a calling, something worth doing."

I know that this sense of calling is possible with work.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Milking the Cow"

A quick reflection from managerial accounting...

As I was reading my managerial accounting textbook (dorky, I know), I came across the phrase milking the cow. I had not heard this phrase used in this context. I mean milking the cow is the milking a cow... for milk. Right? In the context of managerial accounting, though, milking the cow has to do with managers focusing on short-run budgetary performance instead of long-run viability.

What does this look like?

This looks like trimming expenses where they can't be trimmed - particularly in repair and maintenance.

Sure, it makes good business sense to look for alternative suppliers or re-engineer a machine or process to reduce repair and maintenance.

But moving parts wear. Solutions need to be replaced. Wearable parts, um, they wear.

Unchecked milking of the cow can lead to disaster.

Why? You can only cut so far. Then, all of the sudden machines don't run when you need them to run. Then, you miss orders or your cost to produce goes up. Then, well, you get the picture.

It takes constant vigilance to avoid an untimely demise.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Jenn and I recently went to a family gathering at Chad and Meg's new house. I went around the house snapping some shots. Today, while working on a special project, I came across these pictures from an intense game of shuffleshot.

These pictures capture so much of what I envision for the working environment.

In the bottom picture, Chad is completely involved in Eric's turn. He is not some bystander. He is hunkered down with Eric - supporting him.

In the top picture, Eric is either excited or dismayed. I'm not really sure. But, he is clearly totally into the game. He is passionate. I sense his joy of playing - of being in the game.

These are the values that I would like to see in our plant.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thermal Imaging Continued

Yesterday, I shared a thermal image from the Fluke Ti20 Thermal Imager. The thermal image is a great way to identify "hot spots" in a process. In particular, I am searching for areas that could lead to the desorption of azole-type corrosion inhibitors from metallic surface. Generally speaking, these types of inhibitors can form bonds with the metallic surfaces to reduce corrosion and oxidation. At elevated temperatures, some research suggests that they will come off of the surface and leave the surface susceptible to corrosion.

Some new questions:

1. Okay, so I am in search of a specific temperature that I have found in the literature. How much does exposure time come into play? In other words, will the species desorb at lower temperatures with more lengthy exposure?

2. What is causing variation between components and machines? Mechanical differences? electrical differences?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thermal Imaging

Recently, I have been quite interested in pictures and images in the workplace. My Canon EOS Rebel XS has become an essential instrument for documenting observations and changes. Today, I obtained images using a different technique - thermal imaging. My mission is to locate areas of elevated temperature that could lead to the desorption of azole-type corrosion inhibitors from metallic surfaces. The first foray into thermal imaging resulted in more questions than answers. However, the images are quite fascinating.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Canon EOS Rebel XS

In a previous post, I introduced a new tool that I have been using in the never-ending quest to help solve problems. This new tool is the Canon EOS Rebel XS. A problem that has plagued me over the last four months has been determining the causes of color variation in copper. In this study, it was relatively easy to define the problem. However, measuring or quantifying the problem is quite difficult. Advanced techniques such as SEM/EDAX and Auger spectroscopy have only offered clues to the elemental composition of the microfilms. Electrochemical techniques also did not work. Consequently, I was delighted to receive the Canon EOS Rebel XS as a Christmas present from my parents. After some much needed instruction, I have had a great time using the camera to document observations in my ongoing studies of the discoloration of copper. This has proven most beneficial, and I have isolated another variable. Note the difference in color between the top sample and the two below it. Special thanks to Trent Miles for his help in getting me started with this powerful tool.