Thursday, August 18, 2011

What to do with the Specialist?

This is a Specialist:

I LOVE this bike. I love to ride it and I love the way it rides. I love the tires, I love the story of where we got it, I love the seatpost, everything. There is one tiny problem. It is really a bike that is designed with a razor-sharp focus on dual slalom racing. The problem with that is that when you don't feel like dual slalom racing or at least going down hill (which in my case is quite often) it is not really the right bike to be riding. Since the frame is so very small, the geometry for riding long distances over relatively flatter ground (which I often do) is not right. The result of that is sore knees.

Anyway, I have thought of selling it before, but never could bring myself to do it. I think now I have fogured out the solution. Here she is:
This way, the bike stays in the family and Winter gets a new bike to ride (and I''ll just buy myself a new one too). What do you think?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recap of RSM / Vacation in Austria

I’ve not been a big blogger lately.
Thus, I guess I have to run through one of those long recaps of what has been going on over the past 6 months.
Holland is great. We all love the weather. It has been such a great break from the heat of Texas. Spring this year in Holland was unusually warm and sunny and I was almost starting to fear that it was going to be too warm when Holland lived up to its reputation and shifted the weather for the next 3 months or so back to the expected overcast/drizzly. But really, the weather has been pretty much a non-issue for me. I hear my friends at school complaining about it, but it just hasn’t bothered me at all. I have a nice plastic rainsuit that I don when the weather looks bad and it keeps me dry during the 40 minute scooter-ride to school (and back). I still love to see all the Dutch scenery and last week we had our friends from TX come out to visit and we took them to some classic Dutch tourist locations which was great because we haven’t really done a lot of touristy type things since we came this time. It has been great to live so near Jessica’s family and we are really happy that our kids are both having the opportunity to learn their mother’s native tongue and to really get to know the Dutch side of their family. While my own Dutch language ability still lacks quite a bit, the level the kids have achieved in the last 6 months is really amazing. The kids still miss things (family, the farm, friends) from Texas, but they are having great experiences here that I know they will miss when we leave too. We really struggle with the fact that we wish we could roll up all the good things from all the places we have ever lived and bring them together in a single place. Unfortunately, we know that we will soon be leaving Holland and our friends and family here.
In calendar terms, I am just over half finished with school. In reality, I’m mostly done. We just finished the third term so I’ll be starting up the fourth term as soon as we get back from our Austrian vacation. The thing is that while the fourth term is spread out from August to November, the actual time spent in class during those months is nothing like it was for the previous 3 terms. There is a lot of dead time (days off, half days, etc.) built into the schedule and I wonder if the intention isn’t to provide us with more time to be able to attend job interviews and the like as we all prepare to reenter the workforce. Regardless of the intention, I am treating the time as exactly that – time to polish up my resume, apply to jobs and hopefully to land the perfect job. Some very interesting possibilities have already been opened up for us – it is a pretty exciting time for us since we have no idea what we will be doing next year (or where!) But I digress - about school – it has really been great. I don’t think I will ever really be able to put into words how great it has been and what a great learning experience it has been for me. I really do feel like I’ve made some great progress in my ability to work in a team with others and to be more empathetic to others and whatnot. Aside from all that “soft” stuff, the knowledge has been great and I’ve been “awakened” to some new interests (like strategy and consulting). The real challenge for the future will be to balance new learning with continual review of the material I have learned here. For example, when I was taking my Organizational Behavior (OB) class, I thought to myself that it would be great to review my OB notes or read a chapter from the OB book every day to keep fresh on the topic. (That is actually ironic because I remember feeling like my OB class at BYU was a waste of time – I think the lens of experience has changed the color of the subject).
One of the highlights of the program so far was our “Living Management Consultancy Project” where the group I was assigned to received a business case from Eneco (a European energy provider) and we were tasked with generating and presenting a solution to the Eneco executives. We worked (more than) full-time for a week in our group, experienced the whole range of emotions as we struggled to understand the problem, frame it and research it, come up with a innovative solution and figure out how to present it. There were times when we were totally lost as a team and it seemed like we were not going to be able to come up with anything, but we kept at it and eventually came up with a solution that we felt confident about. When we presented it, our hard work was validated and they were very enthusiastic about our solution. We received very positive feedback and it felt really good to have our hard work validated.
We’re right now in Austria on vacation. Wow! As we drove through Germany (stopping at several lovely little towns for the night along the way) things just kept on getting more and more scenic. We are now staying at a beautiful lodge that is perched on one side of a little valley amidst the mountains with views of all the other beautiful “Swiss chalet” style lodges, green meadows, thick forest and mountain peaks on the other side. Last night I sat out on the balcony of our little suite and just enjoyed the mountain air and the view in total relaxation – it has been a while since I have had the luxury of having nothing to do but enjoy the scenery. Today we walked up into the mountains and spent the better part of the day just picking mountain berries and looking for antlers (the kids saw some shed elk antlers at the entrance to the lodge and when they discovered that you could find them just laying around in the mountains, they were all about looking for them – the problem is that they think I am holding out on them and that if I would just tell them what area to look in, they would be able to find some – I imagine there are some out there, but I am not sure we are going to be able to find them this time of year). This is pretty much the first vacation I have had in a long time where I have had the luxury of no cell phone, no internet and no responsibilities. It feels strange (to be honest) but I am hoping that since we are just now at the beginning of the vacation, it will start to feel a bit more normal as we get further into it.