The Woodward Breakfast and Book Club held its fourth meeting on October 14, 2016. I was curious who Woodward Avenue was named for; its namesake sounds like he was a very interesting man: judge, city planner, interested in science and instrumental in founding the University of Michigan. Click on the link to read the biography of Judge Augustus Woodward.  Readers from outside Michigan can read about Woodward Avenue and M-1.

Here are the notes from Chapter 3 of our book study of the Wright Brothers biography:

“The man who wishes to keep at the problem long enough to really learn anything positively must not take dangerous risks. Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks.” Wilbur Wright, page 48

Highlights and Study Questions for Chapter 3

  1. The book describes Wilbur Wright’s harrowing first trip to Kitty Hawk in a leaky boat in a gale in early September, 1900. Have you ever had a scary occasion where events were out of your control?
  2. The local people were skeptical at first (p. 48). By the end of their stay (p. 54), Bill Tate, helpful from the start, was putting in 2 or 3 hours a day to support his family and devoting the rest of his time to helping the Wright brothers. Their hard work was admired: John T. Daniels said they “were two of the workingest boys” he’d ever seen. “They had their whole heart and soul in what they were doing.” Have you ever worked really hard on something you cared about?
  3. Orville, who arrived later in September, was shaken up by a gust of wind throwing him and the glider 20 feet (p. 49). Camping and Self-reliance; Sun & Sky, Wind & Birds (pp 50- 51). Studying the Birds (pp. 52-53) “Learning the secret of flight from a bird was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician.”           Orville Wright                                                           Have you ever studied a mystery intently? Did you solve the puzzle? Was the effort satisfying or frustrating?
  4. They moved the glider 4 miles to Kill Devil Hills for some very successful test flights (p. 55). The narrative had changed from “I” to “we” in letters to Octave Chanute, even though Wilbur was doing all the flying. By mid-October it was time to head home, certain that they would return.
  5. The Wrights received a visit in Dayton from Octave Chanute in June, 1901, and hired Charlie Taylor that month to help run the bicycle shop (pp. 56-57). They left for Kitty Hawk in July 1901, were attacked by the infamous Outer Banks “skeeters” on July 18 (p. 58). Have you ever had to endure anything like that?
  6. One of the two men Chanute had sent to assist the Wrights proved to be helpful and personable, the other disagreeable. Have you ever had to put up with a disagreeable coworker or companion? What did you do to cope?
  7. The Wrights discovered that the camber of the wings on their new glider, the 1:12 ratio recommended by Lielenthal, was too great. Their original 1:22 ratio worked better, so they flattened the wings. Though Chanute and his helpers were impressed, the Wrights went home August 20, discouraged by the lack of progress and knowing that they would have to gather data for themselves rather than trusting the data of others. Have you ever had a time of discouragement in your work? How did you handle it?

October 14 discussion:

  1. One member gave the example of riding in a taxi in a developing country. It may be just what one is used to vs. what one is unfamiliar with. Taxi drivers and the boatman in Wilbur Wright’s case were much less uncomfortable than the passengers who don’t have any control of the situation.
  2. Attendees described projects they had worked on in the past.
  3. It can be frustrating until the puzzle is solved, then it’s very satisfying. Sometimes useful ideas come from failures (Post-it notes from an adhesive that wouldn’t stick at 3M). We’ve come to depend on Google too much. When a journalism class was asked how they would discover Watergate, they turned to their smart phones. Someone has to create the original content and do the investigative reporting, though.
  4. One attendee described the difficulty of repairing an older car outside in the wintertime.
  5. People described difficult coworkers and their coping mechanisms for working with them. Conversely, some people are pleasant no matter what, and are worth their weight in gold.

Note that this is not meant to be a summary of each chapter but rather questions designed to spark interesting discussion. Hopefully it encourages you to get this great book and read it for yourself.

More details about the Woodward Breakfast and Book Club (our first book is the Wright Brothers biography by David McCullough), and what we hope to accomplish are in this blog post.

The notes from the first meeting are here and notes from Chapter One are here. Here are notes from Chapter Two.

We hope everyone enjoyed the Woodward Dream Cruise. The epicenter of next year’s Cruise may move to Pontiac; good news for Pontiac!

If you can’t attend the next meeting, please leave your ideas in the comments or send us an email. You don’t need to live in the metro Detroit area to participate. So far we have Woodward Breakfast & Book Club members from Arizona, New York and Germany. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

Other articles

Last summer I gave a talk at work about my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. You can see the slides and the text of the talk. Below that there are also links to the presentation our USA Melting pot club gave to the Troy City Council.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1 . Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.

Dale Murrish writes on historytraveltechnologyreligion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.