Sunday, August 30, 2009

Late at Night I Hear the Trees

This past week has been very rewarding on a personal level while serving as a reality check on a professional level. We'll start with the good news first.

Katie is working up in Mammoth this summer for the National Park Service, and was able to obtain a couple cancellation permits to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. I climbed Mt. Whitney back in 2005 when I was working in Mammoth, but the allure of high elevation called to Katie and she asked if I wanted to join. I've been doing a lot of tough hiking this summer in our local mountains, so I figured I was ready for an easy stroll up Whitney.

I was quite wrong.

Turns out that 14,505' is a bit more of a challenge when you live at 1200' than when you live and work trail crew at 7500', as I did back in 2005. Nonetheless, I made it sluggishly up the mountain while Katie pranced around as if the air were thick as can be. The views were spectacular, better than I remember, and the weather was perfect. The hike had no issues and we made it up in 6 hours and back down in 4.5 hours, 22 miles round trip with roughly 6000' climbing. I felt much quicker on the descent and we stuffed ourselves with pizza back in Lone Pine before I drove back home Tuesday night.

Other than Whitney, I took it easy this past week and stuck to daily bike commuting and easy 4 mile running loops, mostly flat. Tomorrow I'm really excited to see my surgeon after 4 weeks of physical therapy, and decide what to do next for my arm. I switched to the local hand, wrist, and arm specialist and am very happy I made that decision. Some day I'm sure that I'll look back with fondness on the experience of breaking my arm, but I'm not there yet.

On the work front, the reality of a poor economy is manifesting itself in my life. I had a big lay-off scare about 8 months ago, and the possibility has always been present in my mind since then, but now it's looking like something will definitely happen in my department at work. My coworker, who is 60 years old, was offered an early retirement package and, as of Friday, will likely turn it down. If he does that, there's a good possibility I'll go instead. Hopefully that would happen, and the company wouldn't go ahead and lay him off despite turning down the retirement package (which has happened several times in the past).

My biggest worry of being laid off is not receiving the proper care for my broken arm, but with COBRA and unemployment I will likely be alright. I have to laugh at the irony of possibly being unemployed, having lots of free time, without the option of riding my bike. Thus is life. I'm not completely unafraid of being laid off, but I would really like to keep my job, and I think if I had the responsibilities of my coworker combined with my duties, it'd make my job very interesting and enjoyable. I've had to be careful not to overstep my boundaries as a new employee in the past year, coming into a department where my coworker has been there for 30+ years. Sure would be nice if that pressure were removed and I could just do my job.

Have a great week and hopefully I'll return with some good news about my arm and future employment status.

No comments: