Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A longer discussion of what is happening

I work from home. I don't usually go out of the house, other than to go to the Y to play basketball at noon. Judy and I share an office space for about 4 hours a day, since she goes to the Y in the morning and doesn't show up in the office until about 10:00, and I depart at 11:40 to dash to my game. So, if all this is true, why do I feel that I shouldn't just sit around in my old nasty blue jeans and skanky t-shirt? And I feel that should NOT sit around in these disreputable clothes, but instead should try and dress up a bit.

Today I wore nice pants, a nice shirt, black socks, and my good shoes. I still just sat at my computer and worked on stuff, and answered the phone and all that. But my dress made me feel better, and I liked the change. I plan to do this more in the future. Dress for the job you want, they always say. I'm dressing for the job I used to have.

The sun came out this afternoon and I wanted to get out into it. Juruf and I headed out at about 5:00 to the driving range, and we both hit some balls. Judy is giving it at least some effort, and she was able to drive a ball to the 75 yard marker in the air on several occasions. My poor teaching did not hold her back too much.

By a stroke of terrible planning I have managed to book myself on a flight on Sunday night to Atlanta. I arrive on Monday morning at 6:00 eastern time. For some crazy reason my Outlook calendar does not show holidays, and I am dumb enough not to know that May 29 is Memorial Day this year. So there I will be, in Atlanta, planning to work in the office for the day, with the office closed and everyone enjoying a day off. I have been invited to play golf with Ken from the office, and he invited me over to his house later to share in the grilling of some dead cow or some such, so the day will not be wasted, but honestly, I would have rather been home and traveled on Monday night. The change fees were just too much for me to deal with, so I swallowed hard and just cursed my stupidity.

The next weekend we will be partying with the Trempers in Gatlinburg, TN. Judy, Clint, and Shannon fly down to Atlanta on Thursday where I pick them up, and we all travel to the fun city for a weekend of family rememberences (even though I don't really have many with the Trempers that don't deal with the wedding...). My Atlanta buddies all know the area, and they are encouraging me to see different things. Apparently fudge is popular there, and bar-b-que. How far away is the Jack Daniel's distillery, do you think?

We fly home on Sunday, June 5. On Monday, June 6 I fly to Kansas City, and then have an all day meeting with customers set for Tuesday. I am hoping this works out well, as this project will actually go into a plant in Klamath Falls, OR, and I have bid equipment from about 5 different companies. BRUKS is on the "short list" which means that I have probably priced the project too low, but even so we can make good money if we get the order. Besides, my job is to sell, not walk away from difficult projects.

There is more to tell, but there are more days for blogging. I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where is Summer?

Another week has passed and my blogging has been nil. i apologize. What's the sense of being the Traveling Man if i don't keep you all up to date with my traveling? I might as well be the Stationary Man, for cripes sake!

Last Sunday I departed home at 5:00 pm after an early dinner, and headed to Eugene, OR. I hooked up my iPad to my Aux input and listened to a book on tape, called "The Man Who Loved China" about a very special guy from Britain who was sent on a diplomatic and scientific mission to China in the 1940's. I'm about half way through it now, and I find it very interesting.

Monday I traveled down to Roseburg and visited the BRUKS mobile chipper that was processing tops and branches on landing sites in a harvested valley in the mountains. Very pretty area, but also quire exposed. Then I drove back to Eugene in the afternoon and met with a company there. I visited a really neat clock store that had maybe 10,000 clocks for sale, and included a back room with all sorts of collectible antiques like model trains, airplanes, shaving equipment, cameras, and others sorts of neat old things. Dinner at the Hop House, a local brew pub. Very nice end of the day.

Tuesday I was up and out by 7:00. My destination was Lyons, OR, a veneer mill that needed a chipper. My visit was short, and the mission was a bit of a wild goose chase in as much as the application is not "main stream" but is a bit difficult. Why can't I get the normal projects where what the customer wants is something we can supply?

I was home Tuesday night, and home Thursday through Friday. Friday was beautiful and I took the day for a game of golf with Bill Duprey. We had a great time, We played at the Carnation Golf Club as a part of a coupon deal over the internet. Golf cart, 2 guys for 18 holes, with a $5 voucher for lunch, each. The course was a bit wet (like, water hazards on every hole!), but the course was still pretty fun to play. We had a great time. Bill is a lot of fun to have as a partner.

Saturday I spent the morning cleaning up road trash as a part of a crew from the UU, and worked at home in the afternoon doing the lawn and working with Juruf cleaning up around the place. I go to run the chipper for a bit. The weather was a bit iffy, with clouds and just a bit of misty rain.

Today I did 35 miles on the bike in the morning, and then maybe 15 holes of golf at Flowing lakes GC by myself. My hip is killing me, and my right knee. Too much walking I guess. I am applying a bit of rum internally to help stem the pain, and it helps. My game was OK, and I did get a par several times, but there was the occasional nasty shank that kills my confidence. Still, my putting is great, and I hit 2 out of 3 chips. That is a good thing, right? I hit par on several holes.

I vow to do better with my blogging. I don't get comments, so how do I know how I actual do? You have to tell me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Morning in the Rain

There are times when you just can't seem to find a WiFi Hotspot to use to publish a post! The one I just put up is from last Thursday, and I have been busy ever since. Sorry about that.

Today is Sunday, and the sunny weather that greeted me upon my return to Seattle has now moved over the mountains. The rain is back, and I will be off again, into the spray (literally) this afternoon. I have meeting tomorrow in Oregon and will be there through at least Tuesday. It is going to rain most of the time, I'm afraid.

BQ went generally well, although I find myself anxious to share what I have learned, more than wanting to hear about other people's perception of China. I guess I want to teach a class on China, not discuss it. My bad.

Duncan has pointed out that iTunes has free lectures on many subjects for download, and I looked this up. I have 3 new lectures on China's growing economy, and USA relations in particular. I will listen to these this afternoon when I'm driving. One BQ participant pointed out a book she found good on this topic, and I have downloaded that in audio-format so I can listen to it as I drive. With the several hours I will have in the car in the next few days, it will be a pleasure to have so much interesting audio to entertain me.

A Traveling Day

12 May 2011

A traveling Day

Today I depart Chicago for home. My flight is at noon, which is a strange of time of day for me to depart. The conference started at 10, so I didn't have time to spend there at all. Ken will have to cover the activity alone today, as I did yesterday. He can handle it. I arrived at the airport a bit early and now I am sitting in the Delta Crown Room, the special area with free booze and food for frequent travelers. Since my personal policy is not to drink until after 5:00 normally I am having a cup of tea and a jam-filled thing that looks like an oversized Fig Newton. Very tasty.

Last night was the Gala Reception put on by one of the big companies at the Power Conference, complete with free drinks, food, and dancing girls. They started a rumor that these were the GooGoo Dlls, but I don;t think that is true. They did sing and dance, however, and the party was well attended. I suffered a burden of riches, as I was invited to this one, and to another one. Ken and I attended both, but we bolted the one for the other, thinking the fancy party would be better than the stodgy, guys-only work party. We gave up a better bar and better food for a floor show, which actually didn't seem like that great a trade to me.

The conference was filled with vendors again, and many were singing the blues with respect to biomass projects and lack of orders for equipment. I had to work this morning on re-submitting a final proposal for a project in Stockton CA that is worth $3.6 million, and they are going to issue the PO to us next week. No, really. So we have that one, and there have been several others in the past month that add up to several million dollars in rock solid sales, so I am not quite as negative about biomass as others. We are doing very well.

The Power Conference is all about electric power in its many forms, but mostly about coal power. One of the hot topics is the prospect of exporting coal to other countries, primarily China. The economics seem to work, and with the curtailments of coal use in the USA in favor of more expensive fuels there is excess capacity in the existing coal mining and transportation industries. All they need is an export terminal and empty boats. Bellingham is #1 on the list of new ports to be built, and everyone with any possible interest in that project was talking about it. We were encouraged to offer our equipment, too.

In Washington there are people who are not in favor of having trains of coal rumbling through town, and don't want to see "USA raw material resources" exported to 3rd world countries. They seem to think that China would be better off with some other energy source, and perhaps they would be, but the economics of coal are hard to ignore. China needs to clean up their processing facilities, for sure, but I'm not sure I oppose the exporting of coal when we are already exporting trees from Washington and buying back finished goods. We used to complain that Japan was sucking up all the good trees in the PNW, and they were, but now China and Korea have joined the party in this regard. Customers on the Olympic Peninsula are struggling to find enough wood to run, even when they have hardly any orders for lumber to fill! It is a strange confluence of factors at work here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chicago for One More Day

Is it May 11 already? Where has the time gone?

I'm in Chicago and have been for almost a week. I go home tomorrow and it is about time. I've enjoyed my time here but travel gets old after a while. I need some clean clothes!

Last night I saw my first Cubs game in Wrigley Field. The game wasn't memorable but my hay fever was! I was quite miserable later and I didn't get much sleep last night. Nasty stuff when it affects the eyes, nose, and throat. I tossed and turned for hours, and that is not like me. I normally drop off to sleep almost instantly. Tonite it is fine.

I'll write more later. Parties at the conference have me ready for bed tonite.