Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oregon and Logging?

Once a year a group of people interested in the act of cutting down trees for the good of mankind gets together in the city of Eugene for the Oregon Logging Conference.  It is happening right now.  It goes on for 3 days, and ends on Saturday.  I chose to attend today, or at least to make a showing.  I don't really have a role to play at the Conference this year, but it is good to see people I know and to "wave the flag" for my company.  Jeff from Birmingham AL flew up to be the official representative of BRUKS.  I just showed up because it is my territory and I know everyone.

Today was the day schools organize field trips to the Conference.  Busloads of 4-6th Graders were trooped around to look a the big machines and to have them explained to them.  I don't think they really care about feller-bunchers and slide delimbers, but you never know.  Perhaps their dad's work on one, or maybe a grandpa.  The intent is to make forestry accessible to youngsters, and perhaps to spark some interest in what we all think of as "a nasty, hot, sweaty, cold, muddy, noisy, and dangerous profession that doesn't pay all that well but you do get to work with some pretty cool machines" career.  After all, it is all about the toys, right?  the kid's favorite part is the chainsaw carving demos, when the guy carves owls and fish out of wood as they watch.  Sawdust everywhere, the smell of 2-cycle engines, and lots of noise always attracts a crowd.

We Old Timers just shake our heads and talk about the old days when the Oregon State Fairgrounds was awash in high line yarders, donkeys (machine type, not the animals), and skidders all over the place.  Today it is maybe 20% of what it was "in the day".  True, the new machines are computerized, mechanized, can climb steep hills without slipping, and send the day's work production data to the home office using telemetry in real time, with all the trucks being tracked by GPS!  But is that progress?  Hell, YES!  And you don't even get dirty.

Tomorrow I head home.  The weather today was sunny but cool.  Tomorrow it will rain becasue I have to be out driving in it.  Thanks, Weather Gods!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Atlanta for the Week

As I finish another week in Atlanta, I am taking a moment to reflect on the past week. Sometimes I wonder why I don't blog during the week, but the fact is that I have very little time to myself in a normal working week down here. My days a full, and the evenings are busy with dinners and dinner meetings. Having Jeff always here means that I don't lack for a dinner companion, nor do I lack for someone to have a drink with , or a nightcap. The actual act of traveling at the airport and on the airplane is a different thing, however, and here I am a finally by myself again.

The focus this week has been on a.getting the final details worked out on a ship loader destined for the Port of Portland, OR. The customer is a promising a decision and and order next week, so we a taking the details seriously. The bidding as process we use goes from sloppy to increasingly accurate as the project develops. At this point it is supposed to be as accurate as we can make it, and many sets of eyes go over documents I have been sending out. Since receiving the PO is my last act in this process, I welcome the late scrutiny because this is our last chance to change anything. The customer is doing the same, as they ensure they have everything in the contract they want to have there. Since I have had 2 projects officially cancel this week, it would be good to have at least one commissionable project go this quarter.

I attended MOTAG South the past 2 days and had a chance to catch up with lots of the guys I know in the pulp business in the south and Atlantic states. For the first time in many years we have attendees above 150 and lots of them are from mills. My activity with this group stretches back to 1985 when I first attended and I have made man, many presentations here. The papers that were given this time were on many of the same subjects (chipping, screening) and people came up to me and asked why I wasn't giving them? Ha, ha. I should have.

Next week I'm on the road again, to Seattle on Tuesday, and Oregon for the balance of the week. Since snow is gradually falling out of possibility I should change out of the Blizzak tires and back into the high MPG tires I have. But not quite yet.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Winter's Holiday

Today is Wednesday, February 1st. Judy and I arrived in Whistler on Sunday, January 29th, with Shannon and Clint. The weather was just above freezing, and at the level of the village the precipitation was in the form of rain, heavy at times. The trees where free of snow, but we could occasionally see the hill above us blanketed in snow. We passed car after car that were heading towards Vancouver on our way up, and true to form the village was quiet and peaceful. There were people present, of course, but the hoards had departed for the City, and we had the place to ourselves.

Sunday night we visited a Greek restaurant, and three of us has the lamb, which was large and delicious. We enjoyed red wine with our dinner, which was the reason Shannon and Clint both complained of a poor night's sleep that night. I was fine, but apparently they weren't. Monday morning was the Get Up and Get 'Er Done day on the slopes, and it started out slowly with the Tremper's "walking like zombies". They bounded back pretty fast, I think, and when we met them for lunch they were both fine.

Judy and I skied together Monday morning on wide open slopes with essentially no lift line waits. We were on the Blackcomb Mountain side, and we stuck to the blue groomed slopes. They were wide open and smooth, and Judy did great. Our old skis were quite the attraction, though. As we got off the lift at the top we stopped by to talk with 2 skip patrol volunteers, women about our age or a bit older, who both commented on our skis. They encouraged us to go to the Demo Hut and get some proper skis for the day, but we decided to wait until later to try them out. Consequently we used the technology from the 1980's to ply the 2012 slopes, with seemingly good effect.

We met S&C at noon, and they commented that they had run into these same women, who recounted the tail of the couple with old skis on the hill, who didn't get Demo Skis. Keep in mind that they had no idea who S&C were with respect to us! Shannon asked if we had helmets, and they said no. In fact we were about the only ones on the mountain without them! I had no idea that this had caught on so completely. anyway, Shannon pointed out that the anachronistic couple skiing were actually her parents! We caught up with the ladies later and had a good laugh about it. we also then demoed the new style skis, and they were very nice to ride. I'm not going to concede that our older style skis were anything but fine and serviceable, They were. The new skis were certainly faster owing to the wax job they had, but our older ones also worked fine.

After lunch we all skied together for a while, and then the kids and I went further up the hill to the 7th Heaven lift, which goes above tree line. We took these long and wonderful runs a couple of times, and then decided to rejoin Judy and think about heading down. Juruf was quite tired at this point, and she opted to take the lift down. We skied next to the lift, and paced her most of the way to the midpoint of the mountain, where she needed to transfer to another lift to the bottom. Just before we got to that point we hit the fog bank, and the temperature jumped above freezing. The snow was wet and heavy, the visibility was nil, and we decided to take the lift ourselves. As we neared the bottom we saw Judy just ahead of us, still on her skis, heading to the Aspens Resort where we were staying. We all made it there at the same time, and headed to the hot tub for some needed relaxation.

We had a great time, and getting back on skis was fun for me. I am not in the shape I need to be in for this sort of activity, however. I need much more leg exercising, and I need to get my legs into shape. Back to the bicycle!