End of a Season

The large conference room was packed full of bodies today, as we discussed the changes and their impact with this month's upcoming release. I had pulled up a folding chair next to the western facing window and gazed periodically at the scene unfolding below. Most of the leaves on the trees have fallen, but a few hung tenaciously to their perches, fluttering golden defiance to the wind.

Few people were about, a lull prior to the lunch rush. On the sidewalk, the workers for the City of Saint Paul had begun framing out the ice rink foundation in front of the famous Landmark Center. "Winter already," I realized in wonder. Where did the time go?
Nora,hanging out

A mere four months prior, we welcomed our newest child to the family. Nora is already eating solids and rolling around the floor. She's not quite mobile, but the day will quickly come when she realizes her potential.

Connor and Ryan at Pine Tree Orchard
Ryan has been enjoying his first two months of Kindergarten, and is amazing Meghan and I with his reading skill. Already devouring first level reader books, he has an uncanny ability to work out brand new words. Honestly, what is his teacher going to do to keep him engaged?!

Connor is improving by leaps and bounds in everything he applies himself to. Recently, he has joined the YMCA swim team and has already competed in his first swim meet! It is a lot of fun to see how far he has come in the last year alone.  Both boys are in scouts, and Connor has started his Catholic education with CCD classes.

Meghan is recovering from childbirth and enjoying her new tread-climber, a cross between a treadmill and a stair climber. She despises it less than the elliptical that has taken up space in our house for a few years, relatively unused. (I hated that thing, too.)

Connor's Second Swim Meet
I'm recovering from a late season training injury, after accomplishing most of my goals. It didn't seem that long ago when I was nervously asking myself if I was ready for Moose Mountain Marathon, only to have completed it forty five minutes faster than my previous attempt. Awesome-sauce!

The question begs, "What next?" My training and running dropped off precipitously following Moose Mountain due to laziness and then injury. A calf-muscle strain has left me side-lined for a couple weeks now, and getting started back up has been a challenge. My free-time has similarly disappeared due to volunteering for the boy's Cub Scout pack and Connor's swim team.

Next year's goals include completing a few 50K and couple 50 mile marathons in preparation for a 2014 100 miler. I'd like to be strong enough to avoid injury and fast enough to stay in the middle of the pack, realizing that I've got a long way to go before I'm competitive. No idea which races I'll be signing up for, but I'm also planning on working in some volunteering time. Like I had stated above, I stretched myself a little thin this year, and the flu prior to Zumbro 100 this April knocked me out from that possibility. As John Storekamp stated, "You don't want to be the reason someone DNF's." Definitely not!

Cement Making Silos near the Mississippi
Now is a good time to think short-distances and cross-training. Running to and from work becomes a bit of a challenge in the winter, having to plan out clothing drops, etc. I'll likely ride the bus into work on Monday morning with all my gear and lunch supplies for two days, then run home Monday evening. Run in to work Tuesday morning and bus home. Bus and swim on Wednesday, then repeat the bus/run pair on Thursday/Friday. The tread-climber, as much as I hate to admit it, might be a good substitute for hills/hiking; something I could focus on for a week or two at a time.

Matthew Patten has issued a Winter Challenge that sounds like fun! Not sure how it'll work just yet, but stay tuned!


Legal Discrimination? Smokers Need Not Apply!

Although I probably shouldn't be surprised, I learned something new today: employers can legally discriminate against smokers in the work force - at least in 20 States of the Union. They're not required to provide "Equal Opportunity" for open positions to this subset of the workforce. I do not condone habitual smoking nor would I any such behavior, but there is something fundamentally wrong about allowing employers to exclude you from consideration based upon a personal decision.

Image capture of job text: NOTE: Non-Smokers OnlyI'm not currently looking for new employment, nor am I a smoker. I'm simply too lazy to unsubscribe from the Twin Cities Linux Users Jobs List, and when I saw the following post, I was incensed. I needed to know more.

I stopped in to the HR office to ask if it was possible in the state of Minnesota to post a job under these restrictions, and I was surprised to find out that smokers do not belong to a "protected class" of workers. From Law.com:
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoker protection laws that limit that practice, according to the American Lung Association. But despite laws prohibiting the discrimination against smokers in the hiring process, Banzhaf hasn’t “found a single case where there’s been a holding in favor of a smoker” in such a case.

Interesting. Even if the law is on your side, you're not going to get the job. Being a smoker today is a rough, discriminatory life. I hope you're able to quit, if that's your desire, or able to find employment if you still enjoy smoking. In the very least, I would suggest you keep it low key. (Or vote Libertarian!)