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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Charity of the Month – March

One of the best ideas I have come across online in a while is Living Philanthropic. The author of the site (a self-proclaimed “ordinary guy”) is giving to a different charity every day for an entire year. And with just under 30 days left, it looks like he is going to meet his goal. Such a cool idea. He has encouraged others to do the same, so that is what I am starting this month. For year two of his campaign, he is going to pick a charity each month to donate to, which is the model I am going to follow, because I’m lazy and don’t think I would get around to researching enough charities and contributing to one daily. Instead I’ll just pool my money and contribute once per month to a charity of my choice (though I’m open to recommendations). The goal is to contribute to worthy causes and hopefully bring a spotlight on them and encourage others to contribute as well.

I have two long-standing charity relationships that I donate to (very conveniently, via regular paycheck deductions), the Humane Society of Greater Akron and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank (whose website oddly seems down at the moment). These two groups are important to me, especially since they are right in my backyard. I do have a tendency to donate locally, but I am open to all kinds of charities. So since I have been donating to these two for a long time, I will not include them in my monthly charitable selections but will continue with my regular donations to them.

So with all that being said, the first charity I have selected is the Jordan’s Family Foundation. They are a local non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funding for the research and development of Congenital Heart Diseases. Their efforts in raising awareness include public speaking at various events and functions as well providing information pertaining to general heart care and preventative techniques in order to help create and maintain a healthier, happier heart. Some of the money raised has gone to organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Cardiac Research Division and for support groups including the Congenital Heart Information Network (CHIN) and conduct such events as Recess ROCKS! where more than 1000 students joined together to learn about eating heathy, being active and having fun.

This cause is important to me because a very close family member a few years ago suffered a nearly fatal medical emergency due in part to a previously undiagnosed heart defect, a small hole in the heart from birth that is common though usually closes within hours of birth. Also, recently in the news there have been a number of high school athletes who have died during sporting events due to heart defects. These deaths are very sudden and tragic. In addition to the contributions to congenital heart diseases, I like their contributions to programs such as Recess ROCKS! to encourage kids to eat healthy and be active. The rates of childhood obesity in our country are very scary and more needs to be done to address this.

This charity was brought to my attention by my friend Ryan who is raising money for Jordan’s Family Foundation by running the Cleveland Marathon in May. So please consider contributing to his campaign to help raise money for this worthwhile cause.

This is ponderous, man, really ponderous

I have found myself doing a lot of soul searching lately in terms of my working life. After bouncing around several jobs my first few years out of college, searching for the elusive “perfect” one, I finally settled into where I am now with a company that I really like. Almost six years later, I am really feeling like I’m at a crossroads and really need to figure out what I want and where I want to be and go and use that to guide my decision making. I’ve long given up on the pursuit of perfection, and am more now just trying to figure out what my preferences are, what is merely tolerable, and what things I am not OK with. All kind of weighty things, I know, especially when it comes to your livelihood. Things are going fine at work, and they seem to be very pleased with the work that I am doing. I’m just not sure of whether this is the best fit for me still.

In talking with another software developer friend today, I was reminded of some words of wisdom from Uncle Bob Martin in his post ‘Whiners that Fail‘ from a couple years back:

“YOU, and NO    ONE    ELSE, is responsible for your career. Your employer is not responsible for it. You should not depend on your employer to advance your career.”

There is a lot more to it, but that is the main point. I know a lot of people that I work with that would completely disagree with that statement, and in fact, I have found from time to time that I kind of forget it until something happens to bring me back to that realization. I am there to provide a service. And if I get comfortable in what I’m doing and fail to keep up with the rest of the world that keeps on moving outside of the little bubble that I may find myself confined too, then if that bubble were to be burst, I may find a rather ominous gap between where I’m at and where the rest of the industry has moved onto.

From time to time, I get these moments of inspiration, after reading a great blog post or seeing a great speaker, where I get excited again about software development and kind of plan out some rather lofty goal like mastering some new language by doing some enormous project on my own, or something equally outlandish. And then I get discouraged and give up, quickly. My ambition’s archenemy is my current work situation. I don’t get to program that much anymore, and when I do, it’s using rather dated technology and simplistic & frustrating internally-developed frameworks. So my excitement after going to a user group and learning about cool new features in C# 4 gets killed off pretty quickly when I find myself stuck using C# 2 the next day. So I find myself back at square one and stuck in this defeatist loop, and question why I even try. But at least on the bright side, I see myself making a lot more of an effort at least than most of those around me, trying to go to user groups, read up on new things and try out some things in my free time, even if it is very little.

So, ultimately I’m not really sure of the intent of this post other than to get some things off my chest. I guess it is to publicly remind myself of Uncle Bob’s point that I am responsible for my career and I need to start taking that responsibility seriously. Figure out where I’m at, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. The same friend I was talking to earlier also mentioned how his manager talked to his team to think of their careers like a stock that would trade on the stock market. And his question to all of them is what are you doing to make your stock price continue to go up? I need to break out of this rut and break out of my bubble and catch back up, and get my stock price back on the rise.

Race Report: Shamrock 15k

A little late in putting this together since the race was last Sunday. But I spent the past week in Colorado Springs for work and did not get around to writing it, or doing much else. I ended up just logging one run during the week, and then a long run of 16 miles today, which did not go very well. My legs feel like mush, painful mush, at the moment. Hoping I am able to walk tomorrow. Thinking my spinning class is out of the question.

Anyways, last Sunday, March 5th, was the Shamrock 15k in Cuyahoga Falls. It is run by the Summit Athletic Running Club and this was the 3rd time I was running it. I am always hesitant to sign up for it because the weather this time of year is very unpredictable. Last year, it was sunny but cold. This year, no sun, still cold, and 4+ inches of snow the night before. Luckily the course was well cleared by the noon start time. The course is also the toughest race course I have ever run. You start off on a mostly downhill trend, going down into the valley, run flat for a mile or so, and then climb back out before flattening out for the last few miles. Looking at my mile split times, can you guess which mile has the worst hill I’ve ever encountered in a race?

Mile 1 – 7:32
Mile 2 – 7:38
Mile 3 – 7:29
Mile 4 – 7:36
Mile 5 – 8:55
Mile 6 – 7:53
Mile 7 – 8:04
Mile 8 – 7:32
Mile 9 – 7:26
Last .3 mi – 2:11

So, if you guessed mile 5, you’re a winner. No, it’s not a typo. I went from 7:36 to 8:55. That hill is so nasty. I ran the whole thing, but I might as well have been walking given how short my stride was. I feel sorry for anyone running the race for the first time and turning the corner and encountering this hill. It’s enough to make any runner’s jaw drop. Anyways, I made it over the hill and climbed up the next 2 miles after that and then logged my fastest mile in mile 9, which is always a good sign. In fact, after the first two miles, no one passed me except for a couple of guys running together, who I then overtook again (much to their surprise) in mile 8, and then I picked off a few more runners in the last mile. So I felt great, but when I crossed the finish line in 1:12:10, I couldn’t help but be disappointed as I missed my time from last year by 5 seconds.

Here’s how my results stacked up to the other runners:

– Men, 30-34: 6th of 16
– Overall: 55th of 231

Not sure if I will squeeze in any more spring races before the Cleveland Marathon on May 15th. Might look to do a 5k or 10k on one of my lighter long run weekends. I don’t really know of any other local 15k races, so it looks like I’ll have to wait another year to take a shot at my 15k PR.