A Week In The Life of Hustle

I get a lot of questions about what my life looks like these days. Most of them go something like “Wait, where do you live?” I get it, my life is a little bit complicated these days. It doesn’t fit into a nice pretty social media package that I can tie a bow on.

During the week, I am a teacher at a rural high school about 40 miles from Ridgway. I have a rental house in that town so I don’t have to commute back and forth everyday; it’ll be worth it from my house but paying Ridgway rents + commuting is just too much! I lease the house with a roommate that is also a teacher at my school. We have another roommate for the winter that teaches skiing at Telluride. Since we’re all sharing the house, this brings costs way down for all of us. We’re all busy with work and traveling on our weekends so it all works out. Sprocket really likes having more people around to love.

During the week, I try to keep up my workout routine, stay on top of grading since I’m a failure at doing it over the weekends, do my laundry, and get enough sleep. I don’t have internet at my house so I’ve been a little bit better about reading books and a little bit worse at running up my cellphone data.

On Thursdays, I pack up the Jeep so that we can leave directly after school on Friday. Friday is the only day of the week that I drive to school; the rest of the week I walk the half mile each way. I hit the road at 3:30 and head for Ouray. I usually have time to make a quick pit stop at the post office in Ridgway and take Sprocket for a quick walk before I start work at 5pm.

Friday and Saturday night routines are similar: I close the shop, go home to the shed and feed Sprocket. Depending on how tired I am, sometimes I will go visit a local establishment for a drink before I retire to the shed.

Saturday and Sunday mornings have gotten a bit more difficult in the winter. I want to make sure Sprocket gets some activity and time to move around since he’s so cooped up while I’m working all the time but it’s also been really cold! I’m taking my cross-country skis back down to Ridgway this weekend so I’m hoping to get in some exercise with him more frequently before I go to work at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, after we close up the shop, I head back to the town where I teach to do it all over again.

Crazy the things we do in order to make dreams happen, huh?

New Job, New Clothes

When you’ve spent the last few year wandering the country hiking, exploring, and living out of a vehicle having professional (or even professional-like) clothing isn’t a huge priority. It becomes even less of a priority when you work with companies like Stonewear Designs and Columbia Sportswear—I always felt cute and well dressed for what I was up to. Or I did, at least until I accepted the teaching job in Ridgway.

For the first time since I worked for the health department in Missoula (way back in summer of 2010!), I looked in my closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear for work today.” I’ve been able to adapt a handful of pieces to wearing to school by adding a cardigan or layering a cami underneath but I have a long ways to go to have a truly professional teaching wardrobe so I’m going to need to budget a bit each month to buy non-hiking/workout clothes!

If you’ve met me, or even if you’ve followed me on Twitter and the blog for awhile, you probably know that I’m a lot more apt to spend money on gas or on new gear than new clothes. And trust me, no one was more shocked than me to know that I spent $150 on new clothes today. The only question remains, how long until my students realize that most of my clothes are from Columbia?

Columbia clothes order

On The Page: Shop Class As Soulcraft

Although my dad was involved in the construction industry the whole time I was growing up and built me a desk and assorted bookshelves, the expectation of me was that I would go to school and obtain white collar work. Shortly after I met F, I read this New York Times Magazine article about skilled labor by Matthew B. Crawford. Since I had just met a free spirited motorcycle mechanic, my interest was primed for some musings from a Ph.D. philosopher turned mechanic on finding fulfillment in your work. Somehow I didn’t get around to reading his full book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work until just last month.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

This is really a book that you need to read if you’re interested in how the dynamics at intersection of work and fulfillment play out. Crawford’s background as a philosopher definitely shows in the dense, intellectual analysis. Crawford says, “This book grows out of an attempt to understand the greater sense of agency and competence I have always felt doing manual work, compared to other jobs that were officially recognized as ‘knowledge work.’ Perhaps most surprisingly, I find manual work more engaging mentally.” I totally connected with him there: sometimes making something or physically doing something can be more fulfilling to me than generating an knowledge “product.”

Crawford places great emphasis on the craft of manual work. He discusses at length the importance of a mechanic or craftsman obtaining an understanding of their work through years of working at it rather than relying on computer diagnostics or “how tos”:

“To repeat, when Bob looks at a part and judges it to have ten thousand miles on it, he is relying on a tacit integration of sensual knowledge, unconsciously referring what he sees to patterns built up in his mind through long experience. With computerized diagnostics, what is happening is rather an explicit integration of information, but this explicit integration is happening at the level of a knowledge system that is social in character. The results of this explicit integration are communicated to the mechanic by the service manual, written by people who have no personal knowledge of the motorcycle.”

To this end, Crawford mentions the past utility of apprenticeships as ways to learn a trade rather than through classroom education. In an apprentice-master relationship, the apprentice is able to learn the patterns and thought processes of the master rather than just accumulating facts and figures.

I really enjoyed Crawford’s views on the value of connecting with things and having an objective way to judge the value of work (does the motorcycle run?) as well as his understanding of how work can contribulte to living the “good life”:

“My point, finally, isn’t to recommend motorcycling in particular, nor to idealize the life of a mechanic. It is rather to suggest that if we follow the traces of our own actions to their source, they intimate some understanding of the good life. This understanding may be hard to articulate; bringing it more fully into view is the task of moral inquiry. Such inquiry may be helped along by practical activities in company with others, a sort of conversation in deed. In this conversation lies the potential of work to bring some measure of coherence to our lives.”

While not “light” reading I completely recommend Shop Class As Soul Craft for anyone interested in why we do the work we do, what work makes us happy, and how we connect with our material goods.

How do you feel about a connection with objective work? Have you read Shop Class as Soulcraft? What did you think?

New Venture: Alpine Tour Co.

The time has come for us to try to make our way into the business world. For us that looks a little bit like this:

Alpine Tour Co. Stickers

Alpine Tour Co.

Alpine Tour Co.

The official launch of Alpine Tour Co. will be next April but the soft-launch is well underway! We’re super excited about offering amazing Jeep and hiking tours throughout the San Juans between Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and our home base in Ridgway. See you on the trails!

Reno

F and I traveled to Reno last week for the Northwest Mining Association conference. My boss was kind enough to pay for airfare for F to tag along with me for the week (it was super helpful to have him around!). Most of the week was taken up with conference like happenings of talking about work and careers and products.

Tuesday, we had mostly to ourselves and decided to go on some adventures. (We had a rental car all to ourselves. Even though it was a Kia Rio, not a Soul, occasionally one of us would pop out with “Everyday I’m shufflin'” while driving.) First we headed to Virginia City. Virginia City was the location of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver strike in the United States. The town was founded in 1859 and peaked with a population of almost 30,000 in its 20-year heyday. I love historic towns so off we went.

Continue reading “Reno”

Biking to work

I’ve been trying to ride my bike to work a few times a week. It’s just shy of ten miles from my house. After I begged Forrest to find me a bike and he complied, I was a bit nervous about actually doing it.

When we lived in Oregon I used to ride my bike the 6 miles to campus from our house pretty frequently. It was a nice ride over very small rolling hills so I got a bit of a workout in either direction. This ride? This is a very pleasant downhill ride to work and a nice uphill workout on the way home (650 feet gain in 10 miles isn’t even big enough for MapMyRun to consider it a climb).

Riding to work means that I actually have to get up when my alarm goes off— something I’m not very good at. It means that when I get to work I’m awake and ready to get to work. When I’m through with work I’d really rather just get home right away but the ride home is pretty nice, it’s hard to complain much as I ride up along the river.

Sometime this summer I’m going to have to do it every day…just so I can say I rode 100 miles in a week. 🙂

Crazy Week

The lack of way cool posts from Team 3 Up has been caused by a busy work week for me. One of our technicians who handles lots of our scans is on vacation this week and I was chosen to fill in for him. Aaaannnddd on Tuesday I only kind of knew what I was doing. By yesterday at noon (Wednesday) I’d cleaned up from my Tuesday messes and was on my way and stayed working on my way until 7pm last night (yippie 12 hour days!). And today I’m trying to catch up with what built up earlier in the week.

Here’s looking forward to this weekend (or at least feeling less behind at work)!