Ships as Thousand-Year-Old Tools

I’m in Charleston helping launch the first round of Academy classes. Amidst the craziness of last minute preparations, my wife and I stole a few moments to run out to Sullivan’s Island for a walk by the waves.

As we arrived a huge barge was entering the harbor, and when we left another was leaving.

Ships fascinate me—they are the oldest vehicle of long-distance commerce (and transport of goods) outside of livestock. In an age where technology seems to make every day items obsolete at a blinding rate, it’s somehow comforting to see an invention as useful today as it was 1000 years ago.

charleston-sullivans-island-beach-ships 4

Continue reading Ships as Thousand-Year-Old Tools

The Window Seat

Today I had several hours of work to do in a hotel room, so I dragged the desk to the window for sunlight and at least some sort of view (other than beige walls).

It’s funny how we put ourselves in boxes of convention and simply accept things as they are-even when they are changeable.

I’m not sure why I’d never thought about rearranging furniture to create a more conducive work environment in a hotel, but I’ll do it whenever possible from now on.

Happy 92nd, Papa

Today we made a trip to the mountains to wish my grandfather a happy 92nd birthday. Here he is walking out of his shop after finding a tool my dad and I needed to borrow from him:


The last living member of a 397-man troop, time spent with him is always inspiring. He recounts war stories like they happened yesterday and still works in his shop daily (starting at 4:30am). He also never misses a chance to take a playful jab if you give him a chance. And he still calls his son every day to pray with him. Every time my wife and I see him he asks her how I’m treating her, then looks me in the eye and says, “you’ll have to answer to me if she ever gives a bad report.”

Continue reading Happy 92nd, Papa

Making it Count: Values, Beliefs and Precious Hours

This is the second post in a series called Making it Count about getting things done and using our precious hours wisely1 .

I have the opportunity to talk with people starting new careers every day. They are at different points in their journey: some are looking to attending our code school as a way to pivot their life on to a different path, while others have graduated from the program and need input on where to move, which job to take and which challenge to take on next.

In those conversations the initial question has almost always led to deeper questions. Answering “which of these is a better job offer?” can be really straight-forward, but more often than not my response is, “what do you want out of your career,” or “within this field, what things are you passionate about,” or “what about your job will make you excited when you get out of bed in the morning a few years down the road?”

Continue reading Making it Count: Values, Beliefs and Precious Hours

1. You can read more about the series and view links to additional posts here.

Making it Count: Introduction

This is the first post in a series called Making it Count about getting things done and using our precious hours wisely2 .

In the last few weeks I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with a handful of new people on a daily basis. They are students and instructors we’ve brought into the fold of the intensive code school I run at work.

My interactions with them have produced the same question enough times for me to think there might be value in answering it comprehensively on this blog. Here’s the inquiry:

How do you get everything done?

Being asked about productivity and work gave me pause for a few reasons. First, we do get a whole lot done at The Iron Yard—more than average, I’d say—but I don’t generally feel like we’re some super-productive anomaly. I feel like we’re people who put 110% into work that we love.

Secondly, and more importantly, the question made me think about the non-work aspects of our lives that most people don’t see, like family.

Continue reading Making it Count: Introduction

1. You can read more about the series and view links to additional posts here.

A Kid, a Jeep and The Meaning of Greatness

When I was a kid my dream car was a vintage Jeep CJ-7. I had Matchbox car replicas and books on classic off-road vehicles. It wasn’t an obsession, but it was a passion.

In our family, though, my parents didn’t buy us nice cars. We drove old road warriors whose odometers had seen six figures more than once. Even having a car that I didn’t have to pay for was an incredible privilege, so I didn’t let my dreams of a Jeep get too far past “maybe one day.”

I’ll never forget that one day when my dream actually came true. My dad drove home in a beat-up, bright-orange CJ-7. I was a freshman in high school.

Continue reading A Kid, a Jeep and The Meaning of Greatness

Why I Like Doing the Dishes

I am the official Washer of Dishes in the Dodds household. Most every night before bed and every morning before I leave for work, I scrub, spray and wipe so that our kitchen is ready for the next meal.

Before we were married and lived in the same house, my wife and I had a great talk about who would be responsible for which chores, and I had told her that I wanted to do the dishes because I enjoyed the job.

A few months into marriage my wife asked me an interesting question: “I appreciate that you do the dishes all of the time, and I know that you said you like it, but why?”

Continue reading Why I Like Doing the Dishes

Electric Fence Coreography and Wild Animals

These are transcripts of my wife recounting her dreams in stream-of-conscious format shortly after waking up.

Food for the team of electric fence choreographers was giant buckets of raw chicken. I told them to get the the chicken in the freezer because that and eggs were the only thing we had to eat. It was cold.

During our electric fence choreography routine, we would have to pry different wires open at different times to make various patterns, sometimes hopping back and forth in between the wires. If you messed up it would zap you.

We all threw our underwear in a hamper, and if they pulled your underwear, you had to do something really hard, and this obese lady’s underwear got pulled and I didn’t know how she was going to do the challenge because she couldn’t fit through the wires.

There were wild animals. There were huge boars, but they didn’t seem too aggressive, so I was just standing on tables throwing pieces of hot dog at them.