Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Thought About Geography

Two weeks ago the tiny nation of Iceland has played an extensive part in the comings and goings of the world.  Before April 15 most of the discussion in the last 2 years or so about Iceland had been the economic collapse that occurred in late 2008 when the largest banks in Iceland got caught with way too much debt on their books.  Then of course the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano began to erupt back in March.  At first it really didn't do that much except melt a big chunk of a glacier and close down the Reykjavik airport.  Then came the serious eruptions of the week of April 12th and Iceland started to play a prominent part on the world scene as the ash from the volcano shut down pretty much all air travel to/from and within Western Europe.  Talk about a shocker!  How could the world survive without this ability to travel via air?

Hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions are stranded in places that they don't want to be - and all of this because of a volcano on a small island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

I personally am a big Iceland wonk.  It ranks up there in my top 10 countries that I want to yet visit in my life.  Other countries in that list - in no particular order - Mongolia, Bhutan, Madagascar, the Falkland Islands (though that is really a dependency of the UK not it's own country), Chad, Greenland, Nepal, Iran, Azerbijan, Eritrea and St. Helena (once again - not it's own country but a dependency of the UK).  Hopefully if things settle down with the volcano situation I will actually be vacationing in Iceland later this summer!

Since Iceland has been in the news so much recently I decided I would do some writing about it today.

(Map of Iceland)

First of all, Iceland is a volcanic island just like Hawaii.  It started to grow about 20 million years ago from a series of volcanos that are located in the "hot zone" call the Atlantic Mid-rift.  The Atlantic Mid-Rift is a place where two of the earth's plates meet.  Today Iceland is still home to many volcanos and other geothermal features like geysers and hot springs.

No one know exactly when Iceland was first settled by people.  Though there is a legend that it got the name Iceland because it was found by Vikings during it's sunny and hospitable summer season.  The Vikings assuming the weather was good during the winter stayed and then were treated to a horrible winter.  So they cursed the place and called it Iceland.  That story is legend and it's truth is certainly disputable.

Iceland today is a very cosmopolitan country of roughly 320,000 people.  The vast majority of the country's population lives in and around the capital of Rejkjavik.  The rest of the country is primarily rural and economically survives through farming, fishing and tourism.  Iceland is lacking in most natural resources but is blessed with a ready source of hydroelectrical and geothermal power.  As a result in recent years the environment has been a tremendous battleground as Alcoa has sought to establish a very large aluminum smelter in Iceland that is powered by hydroelectrical power.  Many of the rural Icelanders are for this project while the urbanites are heavily against it.

(Dettifoss the largest waterfall in Europe is symbolic of the power of water in Iceland.)

Prior to the economic collapse of 2008, Iceland was a very worldly country with many visitors.  Locals benefitted from the tourism in the fact that Iceland became a place known for great clubs and restaurants.  Unfortunately with the economic collapse many of these establishments have closed their doors.

This is just a brief overview of what Iceland has to offer but as I work to plan our travel to Iceland, I will certainly post more information about it.

Work continues to be the one and only focus of my life right now.  It is a very unpleasant place that I find myself in as I have not have a day off for weeks and do not expect to have a day off for months to come.  Provided we get a "go" decision for the implementation of the new Oracle system I will be heading to the Philippines for 10 days or more at the end of May/beginning of June.

Though I had to work this past week, Zack and I were still able to get to the mountains.  We had visitors with us in the fact that Scott and Shelly came with us.  All-in-all we had a really good time except for the fact that when we went for hike on Saturday, Zack fell in the North Fork of 10 Mile Creek.

(Zack making a snow angel on a hike to Lily Pad Lakes)

Besides hiking a good bit we also spent some time play a very hardcore game of the Risk.  For the adults we made it more interesting by inventing a drinking game that you had to take a major drink of your chosen alcoholic beverage every time you lost a country.

(View into the North Fork of the 10 Mile Creek Drainage)

I hope to find more time to blog in the coming days and weeks but between this blog and the blog that I run on Facebook, I am finding it hard to get to all my writing done!

Regardless, we hope everyone is having a great week!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Work, work and more work.....

Good god, it has been days and weeks since I have updated this blog! I don’t like that at all. The reason for this lengthy delay in my blog posting is all related to one thing – work.

I should give you a tab bit of background about my work. When I graduated from college in 1988, I immediately went to work for a company called Andersen Consulting. (They changed their name in 2001 and are now called Accenture.) Back in those days I was a computer programmer and I spent all my time working on different projects. I would spend 6 – 8 months on a project for a client and then I would move on to another project. As each project went through its various cycles I would frequently have to work tons and tons of overtime as we got closer to “go-live”. “Go-Live” is of course the time when we would turn the new system on. Fortunately back then, I used to get paid for overtime so I never really minded it.

As the years have progressed I have continued to work for companies that always deployment me in this “project mode”. The pattern continued through my years at Andersen/Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and my current employer. Though I no longer do IT/computer system related work, I continue to work on projects that have a very distinct lifecycle of sell, design, implement and go-live.

I have been assigned to my current project for the last 40 months. The project involves the divesture of a division of my company and its establishment as a separate company. The last days of this project are finally starting to come into focus. Unfortunately this means that I am getting my butt kicked by the amount of work that I need to do. Now let me be clear – I am not complaining about working as that is not the case. It’s just the quantity of work that I am doing is keeping me away from many of my other pursuits.

It is amazing how easily you can become used to working on a continuous basis. I think in some ways that is a good thing as it keeps you from getting too stressed out. I do tend to vent about it a bit, but otherwise I just tramp through it. The toughest part of all this work is that I now am traveling to Boulder every single day. This adds 1 – 2 hours of commuting onto my schedule in both the morning and evening. That is what really seems to eat up the day!

Other than the amount of time spent on work, things are going well. Zack is continuing to mature and grow. It is hard to believe that he is nearing the end of his education at Willow Creek Elementary. For me work is the be all and end all at this moment but there are other things that are going on, but those are left for discussion on another day.

I do hope to be able to write a lot more in the coming days and weeks again. It is still my goal to get at least 200 blog entries out there in this blog for all of 2010.

We hope everyone has a great week!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.