An Intro to Something Else

It’s been a month since my last post. Maybe slightly more (I tend to round in whatever direction paints me in the most favorable light…). To catch you up, here’s the abridged account of recent events, with more to follow. Soon. ish.

  • Finding a place to live.
  • Finding a place to park. (Doesn’t always come with the place to live. My small-town naivety betrays me again!)
  • Finding a church. (Always a favorite activity of relocating.)
  • Learning to navigate the world of benefits.
  • Fixing my car. And fixing something else. Only to find a few weeks later that more repairs are needed, at 3/4 of the car’s value. (This of course happened the day after I told a friend my car would last forever…why do I make these claims?) On the other hand, it’s pretty interesting that the timing of said mechanical/electrical failure coincides quite closely to receiving my first bit of real income and not in the preceding months of employment uncertainty. Coincidence?
  • Reading. Books. With words.
  • Learning how to do my job.
  • Exploring what Madison has to offer.
I should stop there. I think I’ve pushed the limit of my “full stop” usage, although that seems to be the way my mind is functioning in the whirlwind that is job training: very small, barely coherent thoughts.  Stay tuned, something more coherent to follow!
Posted in Life Transitions | 1 Comment

News, News

85+ applications
15 interviews
4 months unemployed
1 ACCEPTED job…priceless!

I have officially accepted a technical services position with Epic Systems Corp in Madison, Wisconsin. (cue trumpet fanfare)

It feels great to have that decision made. Now begins the transition period that I’ve been anticipating for months.  I’m pretty excited.  Check out this link to see my new place of employment.

Posted in Engineering, Life Transitions, Photos | 1 Comment

An Expert’s Take (not mine)

Recently Iowa State hosted a lecture by Margaret Harding, an alum and nuclear expert with 27+ years of experience in the industry.  She did an excellent job of descibing simply the events that have transpired at the Fukushima Daiichi and the events that may have transpired (things we won’t know for weeks).  She also addressed the world’s concerns about radiation and did a good job putting radiation doses into perspective.  I thought she also did a great job not to minimize the tragedy, while still emphasizing the safety and necessity of nuclear power.  Find it here.

Since she spoke, a radioactive water leak was found (and stopped) leaking water into the ocean.  This is definitely not a good thing, but let’s not forget the ocean has a ton of water, so it will be diluted, lessening adverse effects.  Also, time is on our side.  With a half life of 8 days (which the major radiation source, Iodine-131, has), the amount of radiation will be reduced by half in 8 days and virtually non-existent in a matter of weeks.

Here are some great (read reliable) places to get your news and interpretation of current events in Fukushima:

Posted in Engineering, Nuclear Power, Websites & Links | Leave a comment

20ish-Year-Old White Guy Syndrome (TYOWGS)

I got to play high school baseball as an 8th grader.  This is not as great as it sounds (although it is pretty fun…).  As you can imagine there are not a large number of 8th graders that get this privilege.  As you can also imagine, in high school sports, seniority is a big deal when it comes to getting the necessary but dirty, tiring, lame, etc tasks done.  That means we had the responsibilities of transporting all the equipment before and after every practice, game, and bus ride; picking up trash around the field, and chasing foul balls to name a few.  Now this may not be the best system, but it turns out that the best people to challenge such a system are not the fresh, cocky 8th graders.  I was smart…or lucky (probably lucky) to pick up earlier than later on the intense distaste for insubordination that those seniors had.  My other 8th grade teammates, however, did not and had a pretty rough (read running) time.

This is my first vivid recollection of 20ish-year-old white guy syndrome, or TYOWGS (pronounced “tie-o-wigs”).  Clearly its initial onset can happen before the age of 20.  It’s a serious medical condition characterized by disregard for authority, pride, and a sense of entitlement.  White males ages 15-25 are most susceptible.  Don’t believe me?  Guys like Mark Driscoll and Don Miller have also talked of the phenomenon (although in less technical terms).

“You’ve also got foes who criticize whatever you do….I’ll give you some examples from my past week. It’s always a 20-year-old crazy white guy that’s like a rock in my shoe, and the latest is, “The Holy Spirit told me that you’re supposed to run all your sermons by me, and here’s my e-mail account. And I’m happy to do that, so feel free to allow me to serve as your theological editor.” –Mark Driscoll

“Honestly, I rarely write about theological issues because if I do I find myself in a room with white, twenty-something males whose parents are paying for their education and, like me when I was their age, think they know everything, think only in black and white, and defend their ideas as mingled with their identities. It kills the soul.” –Donald Miller

Why do I bring this up, you ask?  I’ll soon be leaving the communities that I’ve come to know and love, to enter into new communities.  A new job, church, and living situation, while still to be determined, is coming quickly.  It’s something that’s been on my mind.  I see often see the symptoms of TYOWGS in my own life, and it can be disastrous for both me and the communities I’m trying to join.  No one likes that guy

Well, being it’s the 21st century, there must be a cure, right?  I think there is, and I think it lies in humility, understanding, and an identity found in Christ.

What else am I missing?

P.S. I’m not sure an attempt at a gender or race change would cure this condition, consult your doctor first on that.

Posted in Faith, Life Transitions | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The (Semi-Irrational) Fear of Radiation

Fear is a crazy thing.  Often it’s born from the unknown.  This post isn’t about fear itself (although that’s a great topic…), but the fear of nuclear radiation.

With the ongoing nuclear situation (if Chernobyl, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were nuclear crises, this isn’t) there are a TON of stories in the media that are really freaking people out, but what’s missing are useful comparisons.  All we hear are comparisons of current radiation limits to the legal allowable limits.

Take this NYT article from yesterday telling of water emitting 1,000 millisieverts per hour (of radiation), comparing that to the 250 millisievert per year limit for power plant workers.  Sounds pretty scary if you don’t know what a sievert is or why it’s bad.  As with everything in the nuclear industry, however, the factor of safety (this is basically the amount of cushion engineers give themselves when designing things, in the off-chance their calculations weren’t spot on) is pretty big.  If you swam in a pool of water that was uniformly emitting radiation at that rate, after an hour, you would increase your risk of cancer by 4%.  Now realize this was one reading, so it’s most likely not emitting at this rate, and no one is getting that close to it.  The real fear is that it may leak out into the ocean.

Four things are important to keep in mind here:

  1. The ocean is HUGE and would greatly dilute the radiation concentration.
  2. Radiation doesn’t last forever.  It’s from radioactive isotopes (radioactive atoms).  The biggest culprit, Iodine-131, has a half-life of 8 days, meaning half of the radioactive atoms will no longer be radioactive in 8 days.  Cesium-137 is another culprit, but has not been found in harmful quantities yet.
  3. Direct radiation exposure falls off by the cube of the distance from the radioactive material.
  4. Even if the iodine-131 or cesium-137 is ingested through spinach, milk, or maybe fish, you’d have to eat an astronomical amount to increase your cancer risk by even 4% with radiation at the current levels in those items.

All this to say, well, let’s not freak out.  There is definitely a danger, but there are much bigger dangers in Japan right now than from radiation.  Also, the rest of the world should not halt plans to grow nuclear power output because an old plant in Japan is leaking radiation after a gigantic earthquake.  Especially when the new systems are physically incapable of failing as the Japan systems did.

Here’s some more places to read about it from smarter people:

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Job Seeking 101

Prior to the fall of 2010, I was under the impression that jobs were pretty easy to come by.  Yes, I’d heard the unemployment numbers, but I’m an engineer…obviously we’re comparing apples to oranges here.  As it turns out, employers are not waiting on the other side of that commencement stage with contracts in hand.  That being said, the last three months have been largely enjoyable, sometimes frustrating, and always character-building.  Here’s a few things I’ve picked up.

  1. Perseverance is key.  It took 65 applications to 27 different companies, 5 interviews, and about 3 months time before 1 offer.  Those numbers probably aren’t that bad when compared to others, but not something I would’ve expected a year ago.  (These numbers don’t count all the applications and interviews during the final semester of school…which would probably bring the total to 100ish)
  2. Have a lot of experiences in mind to draw from for those tricky behavior-based questions.
  3. Only apply for jobs you would actually consider taking…unless you really need the interview practice (not sure it’s worth the extra applications).  Then you don’t have to explain to those disappointed family members why you turned down a perfectly good job.
  4. Why are man-hole covers round?  Why because of its round shape, the cover is unable to fit through the hole to drop on an unassuming worker.  (At least that’s what they told me after I took a couple whiffs at the question)
  5. If you throw in an old textbook to brush up on programming on the way, don’t grab the thermodynamic properties tables.
  6. Always get on the receptionist(s) good side(s).  I’m not sure if this actually matters, but I’m convinced one of these times it’s going to be the CEO or something.
  7. Don’t forget the suit pants for the interview…they are important.  I never actually forgot them, but I do think they are important.  (And a 7 item list seems so much better than a 6 item list)

That’s all I learned.  At least the most interesting things that I can think of.  Oh, and over thinking the whole thing and worrying excessively is a poor choice.  God provides.  It’s pretty great.

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Hello world!

Getting started is always the hardest part of anything, that thesis statement, that first thermo problem. Once a rhythm is established, it’s easy to finish (that’s what Mozart always said…ok, you’re right, I made that up). Well, maybe not easy, but the task has been initiated, which seems to be half the battle.  All that is to say: I don’t know what to write for a first post. I feel like the first one should set the tone, the rhythm, for the whole blog. That, however, is a lot of pressure. Especially when I feel much of that has been done in the pages (isn’t that what the About page is for?)  Clearly I have a lot to learn.  That being said, feel free to give me feedback. My hope for this blog is to create a discussion about the things I am interested in with like, and un-like minded people to the glory of God.  There will also be less riveting topics I’m sure, such as the happenings in my life.  Must keep the diaspora (can I use that word if I’m not talking about the Jewish nation?) of friends and family content.  It should be mildly entertaining…maybe even a little interesting…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments