Sunday, April 26, 2009

Where Do You Get News?

I recently downloaded from the Internet onto my computer a link to Livestation.  It's a way to access worldwide news delivered by other countries. One of the more interesting is the network from the the middle east.  Al Jazeera is now available in English with reporters for that network working around the world.

One can also access BBC, French, Russia, China, and many other countries reporting the news.

I also enjoy watching NASA TV which shows live reporting in space and the training of astronauts.

I suggest you download Livestation and begin to see how reports of world events are done in other cultures.

Have a good week!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Should Be A Case Study

It was Saturday April 11, 2009 at 9:10 AM in the picture above. I was talking on my BlackBerry device to a technician in Indianapolis about trouble with my Woodmizer sawmill. The hydraulics weren't performing up to standard as friends and I milled a 3,000 pound white oak log.

After I described the problem and answered a few questions, the technician diagnosed the problem as most likely a weak battery. I replaced the battery and we were milling again at 10:20 AM at normal performance.

Throughout 15 years of operating this brand of sawmill, I've related to many friends how the Wood-Mizer company should be a Harvard Business Review case study about starting a business, product development, sales, and customer service. This company began in the U. S. around 27 years ago by a Polish immigrant who grew his idea and mill design into a company that has manufactured and distributed 40,000 sawmills to 110 countries.

See the pictures below how friends and I continued sawing and produced quartersawn lumber.

Have a good week!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seattle Underground

When Seattle streets were first built in the mid 1800's, some were below the water level of the Puget Sound when the tide was high. This presented flooding problems and sewage disposal issues for the growing city during the late nineteenth century. Those streets, sidewalks, and stores were eventually elevated by building the same above the troublesome ones. Walls were built, beams installed, and new streets and sidewalks constructed, and the lower level abandoned.

Today, guided tours are available to enter this underground space and hear a guide describe the founding and growth of this northwestern U. S. city.   My wife, daughter, and I took the tour a few weeks ago.  I learned many interesting facts, but the one bit of trivia I learned was about the flush toilet.  The guide told us that Thomas Crapper popularized the flush toilet in the northwest with a shipment of 1500 units to Seattle around 1880. They sold immediately. You can see one of these toilets in a picture below.

Have a good week!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Rare Military Experiences

If the kindness, gentleness and history of Troy Leonard Kitchens were known, the thief probably would not have stolen property from inside the locked toolshed.

The same for whomever recently stole Kitchens' pick-up truck, kept it for a week, and added 700 miles to the odometer. Fortunately, the white '02 Ford Ranger truck was found abandoned at a nearby shopping center in the declining neighborhood of Winston-Salem where Kitchens has lived in the house he built with his hands 60 years ago.  

Mr. Kitchens told me, "I love everybody". He also said, "I hope I didn't kill anybody in the war".  He was referring to WWII and fighting in the Pacific Theater with the 503rd Pacific Regimental Combat Team (PRCT).  These infantry paratroopers fought difficult battles on islands of New Guinea and the Philippines.  Mr. Kitchens is a rare individual with three parachute jumps into combat.  

Kitchens parachuted onto battlefields:

at Nadzab, Markham Valley, New Guinea on September 5, 1943

at Noemfoor Island, New Guinea on July 3, 1944

at Corregidor, Philippines on February 16, 1945

Mr. Kitchens is authorized to wear the Basic Combat Parachutist Badge in the photo below with 3 Combat Jump Stars.  Few men are qualified to wear this badge of honor.

In addition, Kitchens participated in three beach landings where he was delivered near the shoreline on a Landing Ship Transport (LST) and then waded onto the sandy beaches in water up to his nose.

At Corregidor a hand grenade wounded his face and chest in early May 1945.  An enemy bullet entered his right leg near the knee for a second wound on May 20, 1945.  The war ended and a Purple Heart Medal was awarded to PFC Kitchens while hospitalized on Negros Island. An honorable discharge was bestowed him at Fort Bragg at 1:00 AM 12/26/1945 when he arrived there by troop train in the middle of the night.

Kitchens returned home to his wife who bore his daughter a few months after he was drafted in March 1942.  Mr. Kitchens buried his wife at Salisbury National Cemetery in 2005 after 62 years of marriage.  Her casket is nine feet under and some day Troy will be laid to rest on top at six feet under.  In the meantime, Troy lives in retirement from R. C. Flynt & Son, a sewing machine cabinet maker, where he worked 38 years and 4 months.  This family owned company in Winston-Salem, N.C. employed about eleven people. Troy missed 31 days during those years which included time away for an appendectomy and gall bladder removal another time.  He retired in 1986 with no pension, no bonus, and no "thank you" on his last day. He doesn't understand why the owner was angered by his retirement.  The company folded a few years later.

The picture below shows Mr. Kitchens holding a carving he completed in 1946. Troy has the ability to visualize an image inside a block of pine or maple and use a pocket knife to remove the wood around the image leaving these finished horses and wagon in this project. (click on this picture and others to see the intricate detail) This is one hobby he continued throughout life. Charcoal drawings of human faces are framed and displayed on walls of his home.  He drew them. Playing the guitar is another talent he possesses.

Troy believes God sustained him throughout his life.  One devoted uncle was somewhat helpful to him during childhood. The parents he was born to on 6/23/1924 in Greenville, S.C. had a difficult time. Young Troy lived a few years in an orphanage in Asheville, N.C. and his teenage years were on a dairy farm in Mt. Airy, N.C. where he developed strong hands and powerful forearms from milking cows.  He left Flat Rock High School after the tenth grade.

I feel fortunate to have met Mr. Kitchens through membership in the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. When Troy and I had lunch to talk about this writing, I told him "I, too, have plans to be buried in the Salisbury National Cemetery in Rowan County of North Carolina".  It will be an honor to be placed in a straight line somewhere on the forty acre site where this patriot will rest. Meanwhile, I will enjoy his friendship and the bond of this fellow veteran until that day comes to one of us.

As far as thieves are concerned, if they would knock on his door and express their need, Mr. Kitchens would probably offer to help them.

Have a good week!