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Here Comes the Sun (March 2018)

01 Apr 2018 . category: life

It’s been too long since we last talked, dear readers. It’s been two whole months! Today is the first of April: a day for good natured goofs, a day to realize that yes, winter is turning to spring, and a day for me to share some stories as well as check in on my yearly goals.

While it’s raining today, that hasn’t been the trend for the past few weeks. I actually can’t remember the last time I biked to work in full rain gear and actually needed it. (I’ve gotten scared into suiting up a few times only to bike twenty minutes in typical Seattle off and on drizzle where a normal raincoat would suffice.) It hasn’t exactly been sunny, but it’s getting warmer, and any day where the sun does as much as peek out for even ten minutes is more than we’re accustomed to for February and March. I’ve been able to make a bit of time for outside activities other than commuting, but based on how sore I am this morning, it’s obvious I haven’t been running enough. More on that later. First, how are those long term goals going?

  1. More writing and reflecting: The eagle eyed among you will notice that the February 2018 review is MIA. Maybe I’ve been busier, which is good, but really, no excuses for this one. I know that the only way to improve is to take the time to reflect and make conscious changes, and I need to do a better job of respecting the time I’ve blocked for that reflection. It’s difficult when it’s just for me with no other accountability. That’s part of why I’m posting publicly. See you next month!
  2. Say yes to more / get out more: Balancing work with getting out, especially when I’m working evenings and some weekends, makes this really tough. Plenty of room for improvement work here. (Also relatable: cookie monster)
  3. Look a bit more towards the long term: I think I’ve been doing better here. There’s been consistent and manageable progress on the jobs front, more news on that soon™. Long term also doesn’t only mean “find a job”, I’m starting to look towards summer plans (orienteering in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada?) and it’s great to have something to look forward to. Just need to actually commit.


It hurts to walk today. This soreness is nearly a month in the making; I’ve done it to myself. Yesterday I set checkpoint markers out in the woods and over 100 people of all ages exploded across Point Defiance Park to see how many they could find in 90 minutes. It had taken me a bit under 2.5 hours and about 11 miles to set them all. I’ve set courses and run those distances before - it shouldn’t have been a problem, but I didn’t prep well. I’ve gotten a bit lazy with running given my daily cycle commuting.

Since we last spoke, there’s also been a Night-O (in which I totally goofed a few controls, as is tradition) and prior to that the Winter Season Championships where I finished 3rd place and earned some plastic!

The Winter Champs were such a whirlwind - it was an amazing course on an updated map that I really enjoy at Fire Mountain Scout Camp. As soon as I got back to the finish, instead of being able to cool down and revel in my runner’s high, I had to jump straight into troubleshooting mode: my WiFi and team-scoring software had crashed while I was out on the course. (This is the only meet where we hand out awards for that day’s results so there was more interest than normal in seeing live results. That turned into way more clients and web requests than the system normally handles, and in this case the traffic was enough to make it so the one web request every few minutes that loaded new data and re-ran calculations continually timed out.) I got it fixed enough for the results ceremony to go on without any trouble, but it really put a damper on an otherwise amazing event. I suspect many people who have only ever been to COC events have no idea how much of the stuff I’ve built is custom and not standard for the low-key orienteering meets typical of the US, even events sanctioned for national ranking points like this one.


My tutoring position continues to be a mixed bag. Some days go by amazingly quickly with busy sessions full of fun questions and opportunities for me to learn something new (or at least new ways to teach a difficult topic). Sometimes I’m as ready to go home as my lesser interested students. Recently I’ve had more of the former as many students had tests in the past few days leading up to spring break this week. I’m not an answers machine - I’m a resource to help students figure out the puzzles that math presents. If a problem is particularly tricky, I get a kick out of solving the puzzle and then presenting hints to the student, showing them in the process that yes, they do have all the skills to solve the problem on their own. In one of my recent classes, I had two calculus students and one pre-calculus student, each strong and very good at trying things out after asking questions. The two hours flew by as we de-mystified integrals for solids of revolution, particular solutions of differential equations, u-substitution, the law of cosines, and component form for vectors, among other things.

As an engineer, I love how calculus (and pre-cal) have pretty obvious real-world applications. It’s a stark contrast to the Algebra II students learning the details and steps of how to solve logarithmic equations. Sure there are applications (compound interest and population modeling are the most common), but so many problems are just “expand this logarithmic expression.” It’s difficult for me to make the connection and be an inspiration for a kind but struggling student who wants to work somewhere in the social services space where it’s unlikely she will encounter logarithms. On the career front, I’ve settled into the logistics much better than I had after the first month, so overall that’s a huge plus as I don’t get frustrated by paperwork as often. I can certainly see myself continuing to work in education, though for now I really do miss software/tech/design and want to grow more in that space if I can find the right opportunity.


I don’t take great care of my bicycle. I know how to, I just don’t do it as often as I should. If it’s making annoying noises, it’s past due for a quick tune. And it makes such a big difference. One of the best ways to make a bike faster (or, at least feel faster) is to tighten up the brakes. If you can confidently make quick stops, you can go even faster. Just an hour or two of work and I’ve got new brake pads, newly adjusted brakes, a clean chain, and a few minor derailleur adjustments. All together I’ve restored the satisfying whrrrrrrrr of a well-tuned bicycle and will be doing track stands while waiting for the light to change once again.

April showers they say. This week’s forecast certainly lives up to that after a brief but much appreciated summer preview. It’s all good though: if clouds and rain were a deterrent I wouldn’t still be living in the pacific northwest. It may not always look like it, but there’s a lot of opportunity out there. Go out and get it!


Eric Jones builds software that helps people. If he's not at a keyborad, he's probably running through the woods with a map and compass or carrying groceries home on his bicycle.