Hello from Newport, OR

Hello from Newport, OR

Friday evening – April 9, 2021   (Fifth post of this travelogue).

I survived another week of teaching at Boeing and now we are slowly heading home.  We are currently at the Holiday Inn Express in Newport, OR (Google Maps)

This week I taught three different classes:  two bearing classes and one shaft alignment class.  Each class went well.  Sadly there were only two students in each class.  There are two causes for the low attendance.  First is the COVID 25% restriction and the second is the fact that the maintenance staff has been reduced to bare bones levels and the managers can’t let their folks attend classes because of the low coverage for the necessary work.

Today we left Sumner with the intention of staying in Tillamook, OR.  We made that stop in 2018 (this post).  Our plan was to have some ice cream at the Tillamook Creamery and say in one of the local hotels.  Neither plan worked out.  The lines for both the Tillamook Creamery tour and ice cream store were very long and the few hotels in the town were all booked up.   We did a bunch of searching of hotels in nearby towns and nothing was available.  We then went to our trusty Holiday Inn App and found this hotel in Newport about 70 miles south of Tillamook.  It is a typical Holiday Inn Express, with the exception that the cost is over $200.  The Washington and Oregon Coast are very desirable tourist areas and the prices reflect that.

We had laid out a slow trip home with a couple of fun stops.  The plan is to get home about mid-day next Friday.  Since we drove farther than we planned today we may shorten our trip by one day.  We will see how far we make it tomorrow before we make our final plans.

More to come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Newport, OR

Hello yet again from Sumner, WA

Hello yet again from Sumner, WA

Drafted Sunday evening – April 4, 2021   (Fourth post of this travelogue).  Posted Monday evening.

This past week we have basically been slugs.  This was my “in-between week” and we had no real schedule. We have been to Seattle several times and have done quite a bit of the tourist things in the past.  We had talked about going to a crab pot dinner at the water front in Seattle and maybe going to the Boeing Museum, but both of those would involve fighting the terrible Seattle traffic and trying to find a place to park at the sea food restaurant.  We have done both in the past.

On Monday we drove to Duvall and had a great Mexican food Dinner.  We wrote about this place in this post.  As noted in the previous post, Duvall is the hometown of a good friend and he loves this restaurant.  It was a bit over 50 miles each way, but we knew the food would be great and the scenery is impressive in that area.  Prior to driving to dinner, I took Pat the Muckleshoot Casio in Auburn and then drove to Kent to see if I could get some parts for the AC in the 56 Chevy.  Pat did not have a good time at the casino which is pretty unusual.  She often says that she does not mind loosing as long as she gets to play with her money.  In this case, the machines were not friendly.

Wednesday we drove around the east and north sides of the Olympic Peninsula.  We did this in 2013 (this post).  We took a slightly different starting route by driving to Olympia and then up the 101 alongside the Hood Canal.  That is a beautiful drive.  Once we reached the north side of the peninsula, the scenery was so-so.  In 2013 we ate at a fun little restaurant called the Blackberry Café.  We decided to see if it was still in business.  Fortunately we stopped at a rest stop and asked an attendant if he had heard of the place.  He had and gave us instructions on how to get there.  We probably would not have found it without the instructions. In case we ever try to find the place again I am benchmarking it here (Google Map).  If you look at the map, you will see that the restaurant is so small the name does not show up.  We even got to have some blackberry pie.  Black berries are very prevalent in this area (almost like weeds) and the small town of Joyce, where the restaurant is, has a Blackberry Festival each year.

Saturday I drove Pat to the Emerald Queen Casio in Fife.  I then drove to Boeing to make sure that everything was ready for Monday.  As noted, this class begins at 6:00 AM and I did not want to go in extra early for the first day.  In addition, the public parking lot that instructors use, has been converted to a Covid testing area and we must enter the Boeing property and park in a special lot.  I am glad that I did the “dry run” since there were some wrinkles in the process.

Pat, again, did not have a great day at the casino.  Both of the Casinos she went to are on Native American property and we wonder if the payout is different for these properties.

More to come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello yet again from Sumner, WA

Hello again from Sumner, WA

Hello again from Sumner, WA

Saturday afternoon – March 27, 2021   (Third post of this travelogue)

Well, I survived a week of teaching.  These classes consume a lot of energy and tons of walking.  By the end of the week, I am beat.  Both classes went well and the students were great.  My measure of a great student is good participation, good sense of humor and willingness to learn.  All the students (with the exception of maybe one person) had all of the characteristics.

At the Auburn plant, Boeing has built a large modern training facility.  It has been in use for over a year, but I have not taught there.  Our old facility was in a warehouse area with no significant climate control.  In the summer it could be brutal.  This facility seems to have the best of the best.

Boeing requires wearing a mask at all time, so it is a bit of a challenge to teach the class.  Probably the biggest challenge is that the students can’t see my smile when my terrible sense of humor takes over.  If they thought I was serious when I was doing my “crazy Jim” thing, I could be in a lot of trouble {grin}.

I have this week off and then teach four days the week of 4/5.  Unfortunately that is on the day shift which is 6:00-2:30.  NTT is paying for our room this week, so that really helps on the out-of-pocket expenses.

Our check-in to this hotel got off to a rocky start.  The picture of the suite on the website showed a table in the room.  It turned out that either I was looking at the wrong page or they had the wrong picture.  In any case, none of the rooms had a table that Pat could work at.  I went next door to the Candle Wood Suites (an  IHG property) and they had one suite with a table, but it was occupied.  The lady that checked us in at this hotel was less than friendly.  I went back to the front desk the next morning and the person at the front desk (Carmelo) was most helpful.   He said he would look to see if they could find a table we could use.   I went back a bit later and he had a great little table and chair waiting for me (see picture).  It works perfectly for Pat.

I had mentioned the weather previously during our trip up here.  It was all pretty good.  Until…..we crossed the Washington state line.  Almost immediately we hit rain.  I am not sure what the rainy season is here but it must be now.  We have had rain and overcast most of the time so far.  At times the rain and wind make it very uncomfortable to be outside.  The highs are in the low 50s most days.

Two of the reasons I stay at this hotel when I teach in Auburn, are the rather rural area and the wonderful view of Mt. Rainier.  I talk about it being rural, but it has really built up in the past few years.  There is a very large Amazon distribution complex about a mile away.  That said it still seems a bit rural.  One day this week we got a quick glimpse of Mt. Rainier out of our window.  Today the view was a bit better (see photo)

More to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello again from Sumner, WA

Hello from Sumner, WA

Hello from Sumner, WA

Tuesday– March 23, 2021   (Second post of this travelogue)

On Saturday we traveled from Pendleton, OR to Sumner, WA where we will spend the next 3 weeks while I teach at Boeing. Because we did not have to use our “wiggle room day” for any weather issues, we arrived a day early.

Sunday we spent a good part of the day in the town of Federal Way where Pat got a hair cut, spent some time at Barnes and Noble (long delayed visit due to Covid) and did our meal shopping at Trader Joe’s

When I am at these assignments I often stop at Trader Joe’s and get meals that I can eat in the room.  With Pat being here it makes even more sense to get our meals there.  The food is great and very cost effective.

This weeks assignments at Boeing are interesting.  Washington has been at a 25% capacity mandate for the COVID situation and Boeing has responded by reducing the class size from 12 to 4.  That is great for me, as I have less cats to herd {grin}.  It is really great for the first class I teach this week – Mechanical Drives.  Because we only have one trainer per chapter, I usually have to do the class work the first two days and then do the labs the third day (with teams rotating between each trainer).  With just 4 students (actually 3 since one person did not show up), it is an ideal situation where I can teach a chapter and then do the lab.

The assignments for this week are on the second shift (2:30-11:00).  I really like that shift.  It gives me the whole morning to work on stuff and relax a bit.

More to come in later posts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Sumner, WA

Hello from Pendleton, OR

Hello from Pendleton, OR

Friday evening  – March 19, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

Wow, this will be an actual travelogue with Pat and I on the road (but not in the bus).  Our last joint travelogue was our camping trip in Dillon in June 2020.

We are travelling to the Seattle Area via rental car.  I will be teaching two different weeks at Boeing with one week in between.  More about that in a future posts.

We left Evergreen on Wednesday just after the big snowstorm.  We felt it would be safest to travel I 25 north to I 80 and then head west.  I had planned for each day of travel to be in the 350-380 mile range with some wiggle room in case the weather caused an issue.

Our first day of travel was quite interesting.  They had just opened I 25 to Cheyenne the day before and it was obvious that the snow had really wreaked havoc with travel.  Indeed, as we approached Cheyenne, there were all kinds of warning signs about the truck stops being full and fuel islands being blocked by parked semis.  It was amazing that all along the highway from about 5 miles south of the I 80 interchange, trucks were parked everywhere including on the side of the interstate.  It turns out they had just opened I 80 and I 25 north of Cheyenne was still closed.

Our first stop was Rock Springs, WY.  While there was lots of snow on the sides of the interstate, we did not have any problems with this leg of the trip.  As usual, we stayed in a Holiday Inn property.

Our next stop was Twin Falls, ID.  The driving seemed much easier for this leg.  That was probably a combination of less snow on the side of the road and getting used to “long distance driving”.  Because we were ahead of schedule, we decided to have a sit-down lunch – the first in a year.  We exited the interstate and drove to a great little town – Rupert, ID.  The town was straight out of a great novel.  It had a town square and a neat water tower (see both in the photo below).  We ate at a friendly little local restaurant and had a great meal.

 

We had noted several signs showing what appeared to be a very scenic falls in the Twin Falls area – Shoshone Falls.  The advertising suggested it was taller than Niagara Falls.  Unfortunately the flow of the Snake River is very low this time of year and there were only small waterfalls.

Today our drive to Pendleton was great.  We traversed very flat magnificent farm land and some huge rolling hills.  We saw lots of dairies which supplied large cheese factories and a huge Chobani Yogurt plant.  The farms fields in the area are huge.   This time of year, it is hard to tell what the crops are, but it would appear that there is a lot of irrigated hay and wheat.  We saw a lot of huge silage piles, but not much sign of corn fields.

When we got to our hotel our window looked to the east and rolling hills of what appeared to be winter wheat (see photo).  In that photo you can see some snow capped mountains in the distance.

 

That is all for this post – many more to come.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Pendleton, OR

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Friday afternoon  – March 5, 2021   (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am back at NTT for three days this week.  I am producing a live on line (LOL) three day class on electrical code changes.  These “code” classes are pretty boring.  Once I get all the software and hardware working, my job is pretty easy.  While I have to keep an eye on the class activity and help the instructor when needed, I have a lot of time on my hands to work on other things.

Most of our classes are conducted using two software platforms:  Canvas and Zoom.  Some companies refuse to use Zoom for security reasons and the alternatives are difficult to deal with.  Fortunately this class used Zoom.

During this class I spent quite a bit of time working on our website conversion process.  We are currently on what is called the GoDaddy “legacy” system/servers.  They are phasing that out for what is called cPanel servers/platform.  The migration from one the old system/servers to the new system/servers is hugely complex.  I purchased some software to make the process “easier”.  Unfortunately, I am really struggling with the whole process.  Fortunately I can devote the time to the project and still get paid {big grin}.  I am getting closer and once I get the main website (beltguy.com) migrated, the others should be easier (famous last words).  Thankfully the software technicians are working with me and seem quite helpful and responsive.

As has been the case in the past, NTT puts me up at the Staybridge Suites which is close to the office.  It is a IHG member hotel, so I get my Holiday Inn points.  It is an OK hotel that, pre-COVID, had great breakfasts and good “snacks” in the evening.  Probably the best amenity is the great coffee!

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Tuesday afternoon  – December 8, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am back at NTT for two days this week.  I am producing a live on line (LOL) two day class on electrical code changes.  Unlike the last class (OSHA) this one is pretty boring.  Once I get all the software and hardware working, my job is pretty easy.  While I have to keep an eye on the class activity and help the instructor when needed, I have a lot of time on my hands to work on other things.

Most of our LOL classes are conducted using two software platforms:  Canvas and Zoom.  Unfortunately some companies are not comfortable using Zoom (probably some perceived security issue).  When this happens we use Canvas and MS Teams.  Teams is much less powerful than Zoom and is a pain to manage from a producer standpoint.

This class is being conducted in Teams.  Complicating the challenge is the fact that none of the students have access to their camera (supposedly a requirement of NTT) and that makes it hard to monitor student reaction and also monitor attendance.

The students are all in Alaska and I think at least one student is having pretty significant internet access problems.

I guess that is what makes being a producer a challenge.  It will be interesting to see how many assignments I get.  Kind of a double edged sword.  I want a few assignments but I also want my shop time {grin}.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Thursday evening  – November 5, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am back at NTT for four days this week.  I am producing a live on line (LOL) four day OSHA class.  This is a really interesting class for a lot of reasons.  First of all, all of the students are NTT personnel.  It is called an OSHA 30 hour class.  It is strictly regulated by OSHA and the attendees receive an OSHA certification card at the end of the class.  Because it is strictly regulated, that adds yet another level of complexity to the producer activities

In addition to being an interesting class for the reasons listed above, it is also interesting from a content standpoint.  Lots of good information to digest.  It is also good from the standpoint of learning LOL presentation techniques for my benefit (assuming we ever sell a LOL class that I can teach).  Lastly, it is great to experience other instructor techniques.

As I mentioned in the last post, there are a lot of hardware and software details that almost boggle the mind.  The most demanding part of the assignment is getting three monitors set up with several software platforms, then set up proper window views of all the software on those monitors depending on what the instructor needs.   After that, the remote students must be logged in and any communication problems resolved.  That whole process takes about two hours.  For the rest of the class time, the producer monitors the software to make sure the students are using all the tools we use to teach the class.

Again, from the last post:  the producer position pays less than half the instructor rate, but it is still decent income and will fund my “toy” budget, hopefully at level that will keep me active in the shop .  In addition, it will not involve air travel and is less demanding than teaching.  Also, as I mentioned in the last post, our sales for the classes I teach is really in the toilet right now.  I think the producer assignments will be a good alternative income generator.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello Again from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Tuesday evening  – October 20, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

Well, I am back at NTT for three days this week.  However, I am the student this time.  After three days of training I will be certified as a Live On Line (LOL) training producer.  The producer is the hardware/software/student/instructor support person to assure that the online training session goes smoothly.

There are a lot of hardware and software details that almost boggle the mind.  The most demanding part of the assignment is getting three monitors set up with several software platforms, then set up proper window views of all the software on those monitors depending on what the instructor needs.   After that, the remote students must be logged in and any communication problems resolved.  That whole process takes about two hours.  For the rest of the class time, the producer monitors the software to make sure the students are using all the tools we use to teach the class.

The producer position pays less than half the instructor rate, but it is still decent income and will fund my “toy” budget, hopefully at level that will keep me active in the shop .  In addition, it will not involve air travel and is less demanding than teaching.  Also, as I mentioned in the last post, our sales for the classes I teach is really in the toilet right now.  I think the producer assignments will be more frequent.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Hello from Centennial, CO

Thursday evening  – October 1, 2020   (First post of this travelogue)

I am teaching a class this week at the NTT office.  The class is shaft alignment and it is a two day class (Thursday and Friday).  This is the first time I have taught a class since late October of last year!  Before COVID, several of the classes I was scheduled to do cancelled due to lack of sales.  When COVID hit, it really dried up.

I had mentioned in a previous post that NTT was working very hard to establish a market for Live Online Training (LOT) via zoom and other software.  I am certified to teach LOT courses.  I had a fairly large project to convert/develop one of our classes for the LOT platform.  My work on that project was completed several months ago, but NTT has not finished the work they need to do to sell it to the customer.

The course I am teaching this week is live in the office with two students.  It is a rather intensive lab oriented course and could not be taught via LOT.

As is generally the case, NTT is putting me up at the Staybridge Suites.  It is a part of the Holiday Inn/IHG group, so I get my points and it is a fairly nice place.   Before COVID they had the best hotel breakfast and evening snack/meal of any hotel that I stay at (with the exception of some of Pat’s resort trips that she earns).  Of course now, that benefit is mostly not present.  I stayed here in April and half the hotel was shut down and no meals/snacks of any kind.  Now both sides are open and they have a bit of a breakfast.

Unfortunately I do not have any classes scheduled for the rest of the year.  It is possible that something will develop, but I will not hold my breath.  Sales in the Mechanical group have not been very good for the past couple of years and I don’t see that changing in the near future.  Guess that means more shop time {grin}.

That is all for this trip.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Hello from Centennial, CO