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Skiing by Helicopter

January 9, 2022

Filed under: life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 14:26

Heli-skiing is something I have always wanted to do and I got a chance last Wednesday near Whistler, British Columbia. Due to a lot of new snow and poor visibility, the service was suspended the previous four days. My wife and I rolled into Whistler the night before, so I woke up the next morning not knowing whether it would happen, although the forecast was favorable. I got up, had breakfast, geared up, and headed to the “powder hut” and heliport. All systems were “go,” so the excitement quickly mounted.

As with other extreme sports, heli-skiing comes with risk. Among the top are avalanches, tree wells, and crevasses. One of our two guides, named Rob, was experienced and mature and possibly only slightly younger than me. With these and many other activities, nothing replaces experience. He gave a lengthy, detailed, and hands-on briefing on safety and the use of the shovel, probe, and transceiver. (A transceiver is a combination of a transmitter and receiver in a single device). Each of the 11 of us carried all three items, and I was one of three carrying a radio. Rob was clear on what we should and should not do around the helicopter and other elements of heli-skiing. When we were near the five-ton aircraft, we were required to always move low and slow.

The skiing was amazing. Many of the turns were waist deep—something I had never experienced. The Whistler area had received 132 cm (52 inches) of snow in the days leading up to Wednesday morning, and I was told it was unusually dry and light, which made for ideal conditions. We were lucky.

The heli-rides, mountains peaks, and deep powder skiing were absolutely mind-blowing. It is one of those activities in which you ask yourself, “Am I really doing this?” It ranks up there with jumping off a bridge 43 meters (141 feet) above a raging river and encountering lions and great white sharks in Africa. Would I do it again? Yes!

Best Products of 2021

December 29, 2021

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 07:45

At this time of year, I look back and reflect on products I purchased and like a lot. The following are those that rank near the top.

32-inch computer monitor ($280): The product from LG provides 2560 x 1440 resolution and excellent quality, especially for the price. It attaches nicely to my Ergotron sit-stand workstation, which I have had for many years and highly recommend.

Webcam ($22): Much better ones are available, but not for this price. I carry it with me when I’m on the road because the video and audio are far superior to those built into my Dell laptop. It offers 1080P HD, a camera privacy cover, and a decent microphone.

Wireless headphones for TV listening ($200): The Flex 5000 digital system from Sennheiser works beautifully. We bought it because I turn in earlier than my wife and the TV sound system prevents from sleeping. Now, she can watch her favorite programs late at night and not make a sound.

Moderna vaccine (free): My wife and I received our first shot the day our age group became eligible in March 2021, followed by a second dose. Both of us received our booster last month. Thankfully, the vaccination significantly reduces our risk of getting COVID-19, seriously ill, or hospitalized.

Best wishes to you for a safe and fantastic 2022. Happy New Year!

Football

September 5, 2021

Filed under: entertainment,event,life — Terry Wohlers @ 11:18

Thankfully, American football is underway. With the pandemic, last season was somewhat of a dud. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, partly because of the sport. My wife and I attended our first in-person football game Friday night in nearly two years. The overall experience was good, although the Colorado State University Rams played horribly and lost. I am afraid it could be another difficult season. What is unclear to many of us is why the university hired a coach that never won more than half of his games. Steve Addazio is now 58-59 as a head coach at the college level.

Having grown up in Nebraska, we also watch the Huskers, a team that has also struggled in recent years. Many of us believed coach Scott Frost, a four-year starting quarterback for the Huskers and Nebraska native (he grew up 37 miles from my hometown), would bring the program back to its former glory. In his fourth season, it is uncertain whether it will happen. As head coach of the University of Central Florida, Frost took an 0-12 team to 12-0 in two seasons. So far, his “magic” has not worked in Lincoln.

I am less interested in professional football, but the Denver Broncos may be the team to watch. It had a good preseason, so maybe this success will extend into the regular season, which begins September 12. Meanwhile, we will continue our support of the Rams and Huskers, hoping for a turn-around for both programs.

The Biltmore

June 13, 2021

Filed under: life,review,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 13:11

My wife and I stayed on the Biltmore property in Asheville, North Carolina last week. I knew little about it prior to booking the trip. The more I learned about it, the more interested I became. The 250-room home, covering 16,630 sq meters (179,000 sq ft), is the largest in the U.S. and resembles a European palace. It was completed in 1895 by owner George Washington Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius H. Vanderbilt, who created enormous wealth from railroads and shipping. The mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper is Gloria Laura Vanderbilt. Her grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is George’s brother.

The mansion includes 35 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces. We spent a couple hours inside but did not see all of it. Several rooms and spaces stood out. The large swimming pool was interesting, especially given that pools and swimming were not common back then. The primitive nature of the gym was captivating, yet not that different from those of today. The setting of pins in the two-lane bowling alley was not automated, but the design made it easy to return the balls to the players.

                                

The technology in the building was years ahead of its time. An elevator, powered by electricity, was functional in 1895 and is still operating today. We saw it taking people up and down. A much smaller version for food and tableware, called a dumbwaiter, is adjacent to the kitchen. The house included five electric refrigerators, including a walk-in unit. The home’s 43 bathrooms were complete with plumbing, bathtubs, and toilets, but only two had sinks with running water. I recall my parents not having indoor plumbing in their farmhouses 40+ years later.

I found the visit to the Biltmore house intriguing. I had no idea a home with such impressive technology of the time was in the U.S. We stayed at one of two hotels on the property, making it convenient for visiting the many gardens and hiking/biking trails, winery adjacent to our hotel, and mansion. Both staff and visitors were extremely friendly. I highly recommend a visit to the Biltmore.

The Ride of a Lifetime

May 16, 2021

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 05:59

I recently finished The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. It has become a new favorite of mine. Iger served as Disney’s CEO from 2005 to 2020 and led the entertainment giant to a period of enormous growth. Early in the book, it became clear that he is incredibly bright, hardworking, passionate, and caring of people. He is a person of great integrity and is a terrific role model.

                                                           

As CEO, he guided the acquisitions of Pixar for $7.4 billion, Marvel ($4 billion), Lucasfilm ($4.06 billion), and most recently, 20th Century Fox in 2019 for $71.3 billion. The first three had generated nearly $34 billion for Disney at the box office, as of August 2019. Under Iger’s leadership, the company’s net income increased more than 400% and market capitalization grew from $48 billion to $257 billion.

Everyone in business should read this book, not because of Iger’s success, but for who he is as a person and leader. He discussed an almost countless number principals throughout the book—ones that most of us can apply at work and in every-day life. Few titles receive an average score of 4.8 with more than 10,000 ratings at Amazon. When you read it, you will know why.

3D-Printed Meat

May 2, 2021

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future,life — Terry Wohlers @ 09:02

By Noah Mostow and Terry Wohlers

Nearly every week, we see a new headline on 3D-printed meat. More than a handful of companies are working on it, but none look like the real thing. If we step back from the visual appearance of these first prototypes, it could be an excellent application of additive manufacturing. Full disclosure: Only occasionally do I eat meat. I prefer alternative forms of protein for many of reasons, including taste and ease of cooking.

It is uncertain whether plant-based meats will develop to become exactly like beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, but it is likely to get close. 3D-printed meat alternatives, such as Beyond Meat and Redefine Meat, are not meat as we know it. If you have tried an Impossible burger and concluded it does not taste like meat, you are right because it is not. Most meat substitutes include a combination of water, legume proteins, oil, and seasoning.

                                            

Meat alternatives is a new category of “meat” that are safer to cook and will someday be less expensive. To many of us, they also taste great. 3D printing will take it from burgers and sausages to something that looks and cooks like a prime cut of beef and maybe one day, more complex structures, such as chicken wings. With 3D printing, it may be possible to someday produce a steak that offers a better experience, compared to an actual steak.

If you have never tried a meat alternative, I urge you to give it a try, while considering how the ingredients are put together. 3D printing will eventually revolutionize meat production by optimizing the most ideal marble and the perfect fall-off-the-bone ribs.

Beyond these reasons to get excited about 3D-printed meat, it will have a major impact on reducing carbon emissions from animal-based proteins and feedlots. These alternative products could go a significant distance in feeding the world’s population.

Vaccinated

March 6, 2021

Filed under: event,future,life — Terry Wohlers @ 10:52

Yesterday was a good day. That’s because my wife and I received our first vaccination. Our second Moderna shot occurs in 28 days from yesterday. Both of us are ecstatic! I feel great today, other than a mildly sore left arm. The injection, itself, could not have gone faster or better. Honestly, I did not feel a thing, so I asked if she had given it to me.

                               

Thank God for vaccines and the scientists who create them. My mother got polio when she was 17 and it significantly impacted the quality of her life. Thankfully, a polio vaccine prevented my wife, kids, and me from getting it, along with hundreds of millions of others worldwide. If you are unsure about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, do not think twice about it.

In-Person Meetings

January 23, 2021

Filed under: event,future,life,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 05:53

I miss in-person meetings and events and you probably do too. Thankfully, Zoom and other video conferencing tools have helped fill the void, but they are not the same. I look forward to informal conversations when bumping into friends and business acquaintances in exhibition hallways and hotel lobbies. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings contribute greatly to forming and strengthening relationships, often leading to new business.

                               

When can we safely meet in person? Honestly, I do not know. The people who know more than me about the vaccine distribution do not know. I am hopeful it will occur in the second half of this year. As of today, I have tentative plans to travel to Africa, Asia, Europe, and within the U.S. A family vacation would be great too. I am sure the airlines, hotels, and ride-sharing services are also hoping that travel turns around in the coming months.

If you have a story to share about your hopes and plans for 2021, please send it to me. I may use it in a future blog commentary, with your permission, of course. Best wishes to you and your colleagues for a healthy and travel-filled second half to 2021.

Best Products of 2020

December 28, 2020

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 06:55

Each year, I name my favorite new products. This year, the first three revolve around biking, a safe and invigorating outdoor activity.

Signal Peak bike from Fezzari ($3,250): Fezzari, a direct-to-consumer company, does a fine job with its bikes. I bought two from the company in May, including this rugged mountain bike. I rode it an estimated 45-50 times, the majority involving good mountain trails, with some being quite challenging.

S-Works Power Saddle from Specialized ($450): A major part of this saddle is 3D-printed using technology from Silicon Valley-based Carbon. It is an excellent product, although not inexpensive. It is out of stock, which was the case the last time a checked months ago.

KAC Overdrive Sports bike carrier ($400): This is a good product, especially if you do not want to spend twice as much for a carrier. I was prepared to do it, but better-known brands were out of stock for months. I paid $280, but the higher price is still worth it, in my view. (KAC stands for Kick Ass Carrier.)

                                        

Fire HD 10 Tablet ($150): My favorite products of the year are not all about biking. The Fire tablet version I bought has a 257-mm (10.1-inch), 1080p HD display and 32GB of storage. I use it mostly for reading newspapers and checking weather and snow reports. I like it a lot better than my older iPad.

IPSXP ice/snow crampons ($17): This is my first pair of crampons, so I am unable to compare them to other products. Even so, it is hard to go wrong with this product at such a low price. I have used them multiple times and they work great.

LED garage lights ($32): I am not sure how I got by without these lights for so long. You will see and find things in your garage you did not know you had. Well, maybe not literally, but you will certainly see everything much better.

AmazonSmile: It is identical to Amazon, except that the company donates a small percentage of your purchase to a charity of your choice at no cost to you. The company is supporting hundreds of thousands of charities, including many relatively small ones. If you use Amazon, use AmazonSmile instead and share a percentage with your favorite charity.

Best wishes to you for a safe and virus-free 2021. I hope it is also filled with new, interesting, and useful products.

Thanks for Giving

November 27, 2020

Filed under: life — Terry Wohlers @ 14:26

The term “Thanksgiving” dates back to the 1530s. According to Macmillan Dictionary, it was formed by combining the noun “thanks,” taken from the Old English “þanc,” which means “grateful thought,” and the verb “give.” I see it simply as “thanks for giving” and to be thankful for what you have.

This year has been a challenging one, to put it mildly. It is easy to point to many problems and difficulties. At this time, I urge you to be thankful for all of those who have given so much and the blessings that many of us enjoy. I am especially thankful for:

  • healthcare providers who are risking their lives as they help so many
  • members of the military for protecting our democracy
  • those who contribute to food banks, homeless shelters, and countless other charitable organizations
  • companies who are doing their best to keep their employees and customers safe by respecting the rules of a pandemic
  • clients, partners, employees, contractors, Wohlers Report contributors, press/media, and others who have supported Wohlers Associates for 33 years

                                       

On a more personal note, I am thankful for:

  • my wife for all that she does and for tolerating me when she is used to having time for herself when I am traveling ~20 times a year
  • our kids and their spouses and children for the many family get-togethers and the fun and laughter we share
  • friends for meeting to mountain bike, ski, and socialize outdoors
  • a roof over our heads, nourishing food, and overall good health

Please take a moment to create a list of what you are thankful for, literally or in your mind. It helps to put things into perspective and focus on the positives things in life.

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