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Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

March 16, 2007

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 09:08

1. Dorothy Lynch, creator of the popular French salad dressing, is my grandfather’s first cousin. At age 4, I would watch her mix the ingredients and bottle the product in a one-room building no larger than an average American family room. It sat across the street from our home in St. Paul, Nebraska. Today, the building bears her name and is used as a hair salon by her daughter.

2. I started a fire in our home (the one mentioned above) by sticking a hairbrush in a small electric space heater. I can remember smoke and a big red fire truck, but that’s all. I was around 3 at the time. To this day, my parents remind me of this “terrible” incident. No one was injured, but the house suffered some damage.

3. My father was a building contractor when I grew up, so I was introduced to making things when I was young. At age 5, I was on the roof of a single-story house installing asphalt shingles. No kidding, … I really was. Maybe my dad was just letting me play (and not in the safest place), but I remember it as serious business.

4. Many years ago, I sat beside the late Alan Shepard on a flight from Denver to San Francisco. It was a year or so after the movie Apollo 13 came out, so I asked whether the movie was realistic. He said it was. We talked for much of the flight about missions to the moon, parabolic flights, scuba diving, and garbage in New York City. He was an investor in a garbage company that serviced a suburb of NYC and was returning from a business trip. We also shared a flight from SF to Monterey where he and his wife lived. Mr. Shepard was the nicest and most humble guy you’d ever meet and a true legend, as the first American in space.

5. I’m a big fan of classic rock. Some of my favorites: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Bob Seger, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Queen, Steve Miller Band, Allan Parson’s Project, and Al Stewart. Over the years, I’ve grown to like some country rock (my wife and I saw Willie Nelson last Monday night), pop, classical, and other types of music with good vocals, acoustic guitar, and piano. If you have a surround sound system and want to watch a great music DVD, get Hell Freezes Over by the Eagles. Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Timothy Schmit, Randy Mesner, and Don Felder perform some of the best music you’ll ever hear.

Germans Drive Fast

March 4, 2007

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 10:12

When traveling on business, I enjoy touring product development and manufacturing organizations, especially outside the U.S. I find it interesting to compare and contrast the wide range of methods, people, and management strategies. EuroMold was weeks away and I received an invitation from a company that specializes in prototype aluminum castings for the German automotive industry. The owner and managing director offered to meet me at the airport in Frankfurt and take me to his company.

After an excellent visit to his facility, the owner drove me from his site in Steffenberg to Frankfurt, which is an estimated 110 km (70 miles). It did not take long. For much of the trip, he was running his Audi between 200 kph (125 mph) and 265 kph (165 mph). That’s right: we were flying. And, at times, I felt like we might. Was I uneasy? Somewhat. Did we survive? Well, I’m punching out these words with all my digits and most of my faculties.

The automobile is respected in Germany, as well as in most other European countries. When cars are coming from behind, trucks are quick to move to the right-most lane. In the U.S., trucks tend to camp out in the passing lanes and it drives me crazy. Many American truck drivers have this I’m-big-and-you’re-not attitude and are slow to move over for faster vehicles. In Germany, it is the Porches, Mercedes, BMWs, and Audis that rule.

To this day, I don’t know why my German host was in such a hurry. I’ve driven many times—and fast—on Germany’s autobahn, but never anything close to 265 kph. My only conclusion is that some Germans like to drive fast. And, he wanted to make it a memorable day. He succeeded.