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Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Editor, Timber Processing November 2022

I very clearly remember a dinner I had with one of my favorite engineers from the West Coast after a day on the sawmill show floor many, many years ago. After a few cocktails (don’t all stories get good once you hear “after a few cocktails”?) and some advice on how I was screwing up my kid’s chance at learning how to ride a bike because I didn’t bend the training wheels, and instead unscrewed them, we started talking shop. Now of course, he was tight lipped about basically everything because of those pesky NDAs everyone signs and engineer/client privilege—which I am not sure is a thing or not separate from an NDA, but I am claiming it as one. So, he starts talking to me about this hairbrained scheme someone came to him with. It involved a lot of plexiglass and things that would have made OSHA shudder.

Now, this scheme, to my knowledge at least, didn’t make it past a first meeting, but I recently thought about it. Not because I thought it was a good idea per se, but because it was just so…out there. Or at least it seemed to be at the time. Sort of like in 2016 at the Timber Processing & Energy Expo when Joey Nelson was flying a drone inside the Portland Expo Center. It was a little bit mysterious and a little bit cool and a little just out there. I’ve always thought Joey was cool, but in 2016, flying drones inside was still on the cutting-edge of cool. And a few old geezers probably thought the drone was a little bit nuts.

Editors Donnell, Johnson and Shell after an all day Beer Garden

What does all this have to do with each other? Well, for the 2022 edition of the Timber Processing & Energy Expo the editorial trio of Dan Shell, Rich Donnell and everyone’s favorite (and only) lady editor Jessica Johnson did daily recap videos on YouTube. And it was a little bit out there—at least for us. Not because the three of us haven’t been covering this industry for a collective like eight decades, but because I wanted to step outside of the box and film videos on the show floor. I didn’t want to wait until the next issue to discuss all the amazing things we saw, heard, and did at TP&EE 22.

Now, I realize YouTube videos aren’t exactly putting a man on Mars, but for our staff, it kind of was. But just like everyone else, we’re having to teach ourselves new ways to do things. We sent emails (you can subscribe here): with a lot of colors and pictures and graphics leading up to the industry’s biggest gathering on the West Coast. We were active on social media. TP&EE went as digital as we could, while still remaining true to our in-person roots.

Now that I have certainly oversold these videos, click on over to YouTube and check out all the coverage we are offering to supplement the dedicated review elsewhere in this issue. It was great to hug so many friends from far and wide over the course of the show. Thanks to these videos we can all reminisce, until we see you all again in 2024. I am sure there will be more innovations and automations made that will have us all waiting with bated breath to see how the trio of Shell, Donnell and Johnson cover it all in their Daily Round Up.

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