Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Day in Dearborn, MI

When I was down state, I had a week between the Saline and East Grand Rapids shows. I spent time with friends, including one day when I went to Dearborn, MI with friends Marsha and Jim. We went to the Henry Ford Museum to go to an IMAX film, which is one of my favorite things to do. I've been to IMAX theaters all over the country. That day we saw a film about Tahiti. It was well done and made us feel like we went on vacation.

Afterwords, we were looking for somewhere to get a bite to eat. We spotted the Dearborn Inn, which is located just down the road from the museum. The inn was built by Henry Ford so that visiting dignitaries had a five-star hotel to stay in. The inn opened in July 1931. It is now a registered historic landmark.

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was a prominent American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with "Fordism", that is, mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put a dealership in every city in North America, and in major cities on six continents.

In 1891, Ford became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company. After his promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893, he had enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on gasoline engines. These experiments culminated in 1896 with the completion of a self-propelled vehicle which he named the Ford Quadricycle. He test-drove it on June 4. After various test-drives, Ford brainstormed ways to improve the Quadricycle.

Also in 1896, Ford attended a meeting of Edison executives, where he was introduced to Thomas Edison. Edison approved of Ford's automobile experimentation; encouraged by him, Ford designed and built a second vehicle, completing it in 1898. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison became and remained friends.

After a series of business ventures, the Ford Motor Company was founded on June 16, 1903 with $28,000 capital. In a newly designed car, Ford gave an exhibition on the ice of Lake St. Clair, driving 1 mile (1.6 km) in 39.4 seconds, setting a new land speed record at 91.3 miles per hour (147.0 km/h). Convinced by this success, the race driver Barney Oldfield, who named this new Ford model "999" in honor of a racing locomotive of the day, took the car around the country, making the Ford brand known throughout the United States. Ford also was one of the early backers of the Indianapolis 500.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage, which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (Using the consumer price index, this was equivalent to $111.10 per day in 2008 dollars.) The move proved extremely profitable; instead of constant turnover of employees, the best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford, bringing their human capital and expertise, raising productivity, and lowering training costs. Ford called it "wage motive."

Here are some shots taken at the Dearborn Inn.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rock Collection -- Post 2

Today's posting includes the remainder of the photos from the collection of my friend, Robert. He had more cases filled with rocks than I took photos of. Here are a few of the cases:

Most of the cases were in the basement, but Robert had a lot of the small to medium Lake Superior agates in egg cartons upstairs. Here is a photo of only a few.

My favorite part of the day was using his very expensive microscope to look at some of the micro specimens. For those of you who want to collect rocks but don't have a lot of space, this may be an option for you. Each of the micro specimens were in a little 1" plastic case. Most of the specimens are less than a half inch in size. To get these shots, I placed my camera up to one of the eye pieces and went for it. Not every picture turned out, but here are a few. These micros are certainly nature's art.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rock Collection Photos -- Post 1

As a result of owning an agate museum, I occasionally get an offer to visit rockhounds and view their agate collection. I had this opportunity while I was down state. Given the value of this collection, I don't want to provide the identity of the owner or the city in which he lives. Let's just say it is Robert who lives in southeastern Michigan. He is in his 80s and has been collecting agates, fossils, and other items his whole life. His collection is not only extensive, but he has a very large number of museum quality specimens. I especially liked his Mexican agates.

He also had a lot of Lake Superior agates. Here is just one of many groupings.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grand Haven, MI Photos

While down state I visited my sister, Diana, in Holland. We have been enjoying visiting different places in southwestern Michigan when I am down there, as well as touring the Upper Peninsula when she is up here. This past Sunday we drove up to Grand Haven from Holland. After breakfast, we walked out onto the breakwater.

Half way down the breakwater there was a family fishing. We didn't realize it, but there was a kid that happened to be catching a fish in one of the photos we took. When we walked back down the breakwater after going to the end, we saw the results of his catch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tour of a Great Lakes Freighter -- Post 4

I just returned home from a long road trip during which I exhibited my mineral art at the Saline Show (south of Ann Arbor, MI), as well as at the East Grand Rapids art show. Before I get to this past trip, I need to post one more blog update with the last of the freighter photos.

The freighter Calumet is owned by the Lower Great Lakes Transportation Company, which in turn is owned by Rand. On June 24, 2004 Rand Logistics, Inc. (formerly Rand Acquisition Corporation) was formed as a blank check company to effect a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition or other similar business combination with an operating business. On March 3, 2006 Rand, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, LL Acquisition Corp., acquired all of the outstanding shares of capital stock of Lower Lakes Towing and its affiliates Grand River and Lower Lakes Transportation, whereby each of Lower Lakes, Grand River and Lower Lakes Transportation became indirect, wholly-owned subsidiaries of Rand.

The Calumet is part of a fleet of 13 ships, five of which sale under the U.S. flag with the remainder sailing under a Canadian flag. As I said in a previous post, this freighter is 630 feet long with a beam width of 68 feet and a depth of nearly 37 feet. Its midsummer draft is 26 feet. The draft (or draught) of a ship's hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (keel), with the thickness of the hull included. Draft determines the minimum depth of water a ship or boat can safely navigate. The Calumet can carry a total of 19,650 tons. There are only two ships in the Rand fleet that have a higher load capacity. One interesting fact that at one point in the past this freighter was owned by George Steinbrenner.

Here is a shot of the shore conveyor loading the crushed dolomite into the ship's cargo hold.

During the last part of the tour, Daryl took me down below to show me the unloading conveyor system. The infrastructure was truly impressive. Here is the conveyor that moves the cargo out from the bottom of the ship up toward the surface.

From the bottom of the shift we could catch a glance of this one hold that was full of coal.

Here Daryl is walking next to the conveyor belt.

One deck up were the crew quarters. Each crew member has their own cabin with their own bathroom as well as access to satellite TV and high speed Internet.

It is not usually necessary, but there is a general alarm system on board in case of an emergency.