Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 15 - Final Day of Classes

6:30 PM

The final day! We finished up the class and tried to give the final test but again the people speak and understand English but have a hard time reading. I gave up after 3 hours then we said our goodbyes . The mine managers would not put their supervisors in the classes so they asked if I would give one supervisor a crash course. We set at the bar at the hotel and I hit the high points of the course. It took about four hours in between all the interruptions we had.

We will be leaving at 9:00AM on Saturday. The mine is not going to fly us to Ndola, so it's a 4-6 hour trip back over the road from hell. We will then be leaving Johannesburg South Africa at 9:00 PM for a 17 hours flight to Atlanta and then 4 more hours to Salt Lake. I made a lot of friends here and most of them want me to help them get into America. One student just got his first car (1972 Toyota) and he is a very happy man at present. Gas cost is around $5.50 /gallon. He said "I hope with my new job I will be able to buy more things for my family". Miners make about $500.00 / month. That's 100 time more than the average.

* Attached is pictures of the class trying to take the test
* The man I gave the glasses to
* One of the beautiful trees along the road.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 14

9:00 PM

Today was the final full day of class #2. I spent all day in the class room, but no hands on training. The class is doing well not having any exposure on mining equipment. The supervisor that was to be in class didn't show up. I was told he would be in class tomorrow, I said we are going to work 1/2 day and testing the students. I was told to conduct a crash course in the afternoon on Friday.

I showed the pictures of the spider that was in my bathroom yesterday to the students. I was told the name of the spider (octo something) I asked if it was dangerous? It can kill small children and small animals, but it only hurts an adult. So I was told.

I overheard today that one of the South Africans from the mine, hit and killed one of the locals. The driver said the man was on a bike and drove in front of him.

We also had a brush fire just outside the hotel. The locals burn the grass in small areas to help clear the ground. I guess the fire got out of control. The fire reached the driveway and burnt it's self out. We had a lot of nervous people here.

We will talk again.

* Attached is pictures of the fire
* The meal at the Indonesian's home - the skinny chickens and fish heads.
* The little girl is a grand daughter of one of the local trainers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 13

8:00 PM

I had a good day in the training class. The guy I gave the glasses to had his wife make a special case for them. He really is protective of them. The men all like the chocolates. They've had some candy in the local stores but the American chocolates are the best they say.

The regional service rep. from Komatsu was at the mine for a day. I had a little meeting with him about some of the problems the trucks are having. The man is a Frenchman and he comes with a Frenchman attitude. After I was done with my presentation he told me "You must input a TSI (a technical service information) to me, Japan and Komatsu America and you must do it today". I am not to fond of the French anyway, so I was getting a little put out.
I keep my cool and said "Yes I will it will cost you $100.00 /hour".
"What do you mean"? He asked.
"I do not work for you, Japan on Komatsu America, I am a private contractor and will be glade to input your TSI for pay".
He did not reply but by his expression I could tell he was mad and wanted to sat something. He stayed on the mine site for a few more hours and then had to go back to France. But before he left shook hands and let the issue die. We then exchanged business cards and said our farewells. He told Barry, who took him to the airport "I don't understand Americans? They always want pay for their work. They are very independent". He did say the training is the best he has seen and took one of my manuals and said he will request me in the future for training.

The mine insured me I would have their maintenance supervisor in the class today. That didn't happen. I was told tomorrow for sure he will attend. I would not bet on it. I got into the shower this morning around 5:00AM and had a visitor, a big brown spider. I don't know if it was harmful, at lease this one is not harmful any more. Attached is the recently alive spider, the class checking steering pressures, and for you Mark this is how they collect oil samples. Looks like a lot better system than you had (ha! ha! ha!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 12

8:30 PM
(click on images to enlarge)

Today was the second day of class and the mine put 2 more new hires into the class (10) total. Who knows tomorrow maybe I'll have even more or none at all. We (Jim and I) go day to day with the mine. Today we did get a truck in the afternoon for hands on training. I split the class into groups to check out items on the truck, one group on the ground, one group on the deck checking out the brake circuits, and a group in the cab going through the monitor computer. Every group wanted me for something. I crawled up and down the ladder, under the truck and in the cab all afternoon. In the U.S., if I split the class, one group would work (the group I would be with) the rest would be sitting around. These people want to learn all they can and get all the information I can give.

One student, Harold (that's not how it's spelled but it's how I pronounce it) is 49 years old, an old man in Zambian society, was having trouble reading the shop manual. He would move the book back and forward trying to focus, so I got a pair of beat up reading glasses out of my case. One of the nose pads were gone and the ear arms were bent out of shape. I was going to trash them and get another pair. I said "Try these Harold". He was so thankful! He said this is the best he has read in a long time. I said "Keep them they are yours". You should have seen the expression his face. I will never forget it!

The candy has been a big hit! When the students answer a question correctly I would give them one of the Tootsie Rolls. American candy is a big hit. On the way out tonight Harold said he has 7 kids "Have you got any sweets for them" I gave all of them candy for the kids on the way out. One guy, not married, said "Sir I have 4 kids at home and can I have sweets for them?" He had a big smile on his face when he asked.

I'm having a great time with this class. They are running me ragged and at the end of the day I'm very beat, along with a sore back and leg.

* Attached is a photo of the class.
* photo of Harold
* A hitch pin that keeps the rear of the truck attached to the front, I reported this to the management last Monday, still not fixed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 11

8:30 PM
(click on pictures to enlarge)

Today I arrived at the mine at 7:00 AM to start my second class. One of the trucks had been down on the fuel dock for about 12 hours but the mine technicians could not repair it. I then I was asked to help. I asked for a set of prints and a volt/ohm meter to trouble shoot the problem. This mine has a total of 3,000 people working here, about 40 mechanics in the truck shop. They had to go into the field and get a ohm/meter from the electrician, the prints could not be located and the hand tools could not be used until the other technician gets done with them. They say the mine is making money, but I do not know how. After waiting about an hour for the tools we found the fuel shut off solenoid was open. I then removed the holding spring out of the solenoid, started and moved the truck. I was told a new solenoid would take 21 days to receive. I said "Order it from the states and get it flown in on next day air". No response yet from the mine.

Around 9:00 AM I met my new students. There were eight total and all new hires, their first day on the job. They did not go through the safety training and were sent directly to me. They have a mechanical background, but have never been around mining equipment or Komatsu for that matter. Even with those disadvantages they seem to pick up on some of the information. We could not do the hands on training because their safety gear has not been issued. The biggest obstruction to making money, is the lack of committment in trying to make improvements from the management.

I was told last Friday the mines shop supervisors and senior technicians will be in this week's class. This did not happen! I cannot understand why they pay the money to have us over here and not USE US!!!! Oh well, I will do the best for the week and leave them to themselves.

The attached photos are of the water falls (ha,ha) we were told we just HAD to see.
The single photo is of Nick the Cat rep. He is 6 foot 8 inches tall weights 320 pounds. You should see him in the little shop trucks they run.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 10

9:30 PM

Not too busy of a day. I did get to go to a local water falls about 15 KM north of town. Again it was a rough dirt road and then we had to walk about a mile to the river to see a small rapids. I guess the locals have never seen a waterfall. It was good to get out. Came back to the motel and chilled out until 7:00 PM.

The operator trainer at the mine invited us over for a Indonesian meal. The company was all Indonesian, so it was hard to understand what they were saying, but they all spoke English. They gave us a spoon and a fork to eat with. The Indonesians use their hands, no utensils. They served chicken, rice, fish, fruit and vegetables. They have a hot sauces for the chicken, I like hot spicy foods but I met my match with that hot sauce. They really enjoy it they put it on everything. The chicken served was very skinny (not much meat) the fish that Jim had was not very good he said full of bones, no taste, but the watermelon was good. The Indonesians eat the rind and all. I got some strange looks when I through away the rinds. We had a good visit with one of the men had his 2 year old granddaughter. She was a doll! A very active girl, just like any two year old. Barry took a picture of me and her with his camera, I will send the picture when I get it.

I will write tomorrow about the second class.

The photo is of the local market place.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 9 - Visiting the Animal Reserve

6:30 PM

I had the day off so we did a little sight seeing. We were told of a animal preserve about 100 KM (55 miles) away. The trip took about 2 hours back over the road from hell. Lots of pot holes! Barry, the guy from South Africa, drives very fast and swerves to avoid the pot holes. The speed limit is posted at 80 KMH he hits 120-150 KMH. All the locals walk alone side the roads and he came close to hitting a couple.
I shouted "watch out people are on the road".
Barry replied "They will move. One less Kafka is OK".
On the return trip Jim drove back the pot holes were still there but the speed was less.

We had a great day at the animal farm when we finally got there. We didn't get to see many animals in the wild, a few monkeys, but that was all. The farm was started 50 years ago when a couple took pity on an abused chimp from Congo. They got a trust grant from the government for 99 years. Which sets aside 3,000 SQ KM for the protection of abused animals. The Congo and other African countries has a high poaching business. they kill the chimps and made ash trays out of their hands. Disgusting! They take the animals in from all around the world and care for them. The farm has chimps, birds, monkeys, hippo's etc. At the farm office a small monkey that had his mother shot took to us. Climbing and jumping all around. He got into my pockets, untied my shoes, played in our hair and when we left the farm he jumped into the car with us and didn't want to get out. Great time! The chimps are free to roam at their will in a large, large wild area. It's surrounded by an electrical fence 15 foot high to keep them in. Some are quite smart. A few would get a large log, lay it across the fence, climb over the fence and escape. If they were left to roam wild the locals would kill them. One chimp took a stick forced it under the fence wedged it up with a rock and got out under the fence. This chimp has to be keep in a special cage and not released into the compound area. A "BOSS" chimp didn't like us around watching them. He picked up a large stone threw it at the fence and just missed hitting myself, the rock bounced off Barry and hit Jim in the side. I got a great video of it. Jim has a good size bruise on his side. The farm has signs posted warring of the chimps throwing stones. I believe it now! Jacob one of the care takers stated Nick (the thrower) "That's the one that breaks many windshields out".

Last night at the bar Barry, Jim and I were siting around discussing the mine and today's work. We were joined by a couple of more South Africans also working at the mine.
After they had to many beers Barry said "You do a good job of training but you should not be so nice to the Kafka's".
I asked "What do you mean"?
"These people have to know who is in charge and who is superior". he replied. "You damn Americans, the way you treat the blacks is making it harder on the rest of the world". (Kind of like what happened in Tanzania last year.)
I got a little hot! I looked him straight in the eye and told him "If you people would treat them civil maybe you can get the work out of them that you bitch about all the time!"
The rest of the men got quite until I quit staring him down. Nothing else was said on that subject the rest of the night. I do not understand why the South African whites think they are so much better that the rest of the world. Jim or I would be talking to someone else and they will just interrupt and starting talking about something different. Of course the drinking of the beer brought out his true feelings. As I've said "If you want to hear the truth ask a kid or a drunk." We had a great day and Barry keep the racial remarks to a minimum.

Attached are great pictures of the animal farm.