Monday, October 16, 2017

People Get Ready

One more from Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions - People Get Ready. It's more of a civil rights movement song than a prepper song but the way things are going, it seems to still be relevant, regardless of how you look at it.

This seems to be the year of natural disasters. Huge fires earlier in the year in Texas and Oklahoma, then Montana, and now California. Hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico. We don't have to contend with forest fires or hurricanes here in the Mid-West but we do get tornadoes and snow storms. It's been pretty quiet as far as tornadoes this season but who knows what the winter will bring. With the way things are going, could end up raining frogs come December.

Or we could be hit by an EMP attack. I read the other day once again about just such an item. Now that North Korea has their ICBMs functional, those supposedly in the know say that up to 90% of the US population could perish if the grid goes down. That's scary. 100 years ago there was still a large percentage of the population living in the country, growing their own food and being mostly self-sufficient. It's not like that now. Hardly anyone is self-sufficient, and even if they are, will they be able to maintain that lifestyle when the grid goes down? If you were going to take the grid down, now would be an excellent time, what with FEMA and other emergency services already dealing with all the other natural disasters and with winter approaching. My garden is about done for the season and the fruit trees are likewise about finished for the season. The earliest I could expect new crops of any sort would be about eight months from now. No way I could go for eight months without resupply. Makes you wonder how the pioneers made it through their first winter. Lots of them didn't, I suppose.

There was an article about the mess in Puerto Rico in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Those people are in really sad shape due to a combination of factors. The island was in sad shape financially before the hurricane, the devastation was horrible and because it's an island, it's not easy getting supplies and equipment to them. No Cajun Navy to help those poor souls. If we here on the mainland had our power go down for a month, what would we do. People in a high rise apartment or the "rough" parts of the cities will be in a very, very bad way after only a few days, let alone a few weeks. After a couple of weeks I'm guessing it'll be like Lord of the Flies and they'll be looking at carving up the fat kids.

It looks like the government has done a fairly good job dealing with the disasters so far this year but I don't know if I want to count on them coming to the rescue if things go really sideways. I'm going to revisit my emergency plan and see what I can do to fill in a few of the blanks. You might be wise to do the same.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Keep On Pushing

Spent the majority of the day yesterday chauffeuring the Missus around. First stop was the scan, then a stop to get her something to eat, then to the hospital for blood work. We get the results when we see the doctor next week. Hopefully see's still cancer free. I feel bad for the old girl - not easy waiting to see if the other shoe is going to drop.

I've got a list of things to do today - like most days - but I should be able to get back on the motorbike project for a bit since I'm stalled out on the school house bell. I need to finish the motor chainguard and then work on the pedal drive chain and another chainguard. There won't be too much more to do after that. 

Finished up my last night-school class the other night. That feels good. Sixteen more days and then I'm done teaching. That should feel even better. I was talking to my cousin the other day at the reunion and I asked him how much longer he's planning on working. He said that ever since he was six years old, he's had to get up and go somewhere. I hadn't thought much of the school years, just my working years, but if you look at it like that, then 12 + 50 = 62. Holy Horseshit, Batman! I've had to get up and go someplace for almost 93% of my life. If I ever have second thoughts about retiring, (as if), I'll just remind myself of that percentage.

Keep on pushing y'all and I'll just imagine myself in that red Jaguar while you do.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Doors

I've been both giving some serious thought as well as actually preparing for what I'm going to do when I'm fully retired. Obviously, the first things I should concentrate on are the projects that I've already started like the 900 and the VW. However, I definitely want to get back to some film photography, both black & white and maybe some alternative process stuff. I also want to get my little smithy up and running.

I've got the forge in place and I've got some coal. I've got most of the hand tools required - might need a few more pairs of tongs. Those could be one of the first projects, I suppose. I'll have to move a few things around to make sure everything is safe from flying sparks but most of those things are on wheels, so no real problem with that. Other than where to put them, that is.

Looking at the photos above, I don't need a door anywhere but I love the Art Nouveau style in general and the beautiful mix of ironwork and wood in particular. I've got a couple of books on the Art Nouveau style. Maybe take a look at those over the winter and start getting some ideas for some ironwork that would get me started on the path back to doing some blacksmithing again.

I painted the pieces I had primed for the school bell project. The Missus is still not sure about the color of the bell itself. I bought some paint thinking I'd be done in a couple of days but now I'm on hold. I told her just take the can of paint back to the hardware store and find one you like. Eastwood has some paint that I think would work well and would look good but this is her bell. Whatever Momma wants, Momma gets.

Painted the little bracket I made for the transportation room and got it installed. Managed to do a little thinning of the piles while I was up there. I've still got a ways to go on that, however. I've got a bunch of stuff left over from my teaching days and from workshops I've attended, plus a bunch of other crap from trade shows or just interesting things I've picked up over the years. I'll head back in there on another rainy day, garbage bag in hand, and toss some more of it out.

Milestone today, though. My last night class tonight! Just a morning class for the next eight weeks and that'll be it. I did sign up for the 5 axis machining class the other day. It meets only one day per week in the lab where I work now. I can keep my lab tech job open and that'll give me access to the tools in the building, at least until May. I'll decide then what comes next.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hard Work

Photo From Here

Ain't that the truth. One thing about it, however, if you are willing to work hard, follow directions and show up every day, it's not hard to stand out from the crowd. I should probably add pull your pants up and put your phone away as well.

I didn't do much in the way of hard work over the weekend. I went to the gym and a wedding later in the day on Saturday, and a small scale family reunion on Sunday. Both the wedding and the reception were nice as was the reunion. Got a chance to see some people I rarely see, at least what's left of them now. Lot's of good memories flowing yesterday. That in itself is pretty amazing, seeing as how most of us can't remember what we had for breakfast at this stage of the game.

I did manage to get some primer on a couple more pieces for the school house bell project. Should be able to finish that project up this week as long as I can find some muscle to move things around.

I made another little corner bracket to hang a lantern in my "transportation room", library, man cave or whatever you want to call it. I need to get some brown paint and then I can hang it up. Be one more off the list. Of course, one of these days I'm going to run out of the easy ones and I'll have to get back on the big projects. I just needed to see the list shrink a bit - and should by week's end.

Friday, October 6, 2017

If I Make It To December

I was discussing something with the lab tech at the college the other day and my response to his statement was I just need to make it to December and immediately thought of Merle Haggard's classic:

Looks like that's going to be my new theme song. I'm down to under twenty working days left in my teaching career. I've got a great part-time job at the college but I'm ready to call it quits. Come December I can throw away the alarm clock and all my shirts with collars. Live in sweat pants and bib overalls, come and go as I please. Pick up the last four states on my quest to have been in all 50. Travel the Avenue of the Giants, see the Golden Gate bridge, sprint car races in Knoxville, Iowa, Museum of American Speed  in Lincoln, Nebraska and who knows where else.

In the meantime, however, knocking the hell out of the project list.

Got the bell base painted and finished making the chainguard for the motor bike. I still have to make the mounts to bolt it on, but soon. I made the front piece and rounded the bottom right corner off. It looked OK before I made the back piece. Now that I look at it, I should have had it follow the shape of the tubing so the two pieces look like one. Looks like I might have to splice a Dutchman in there.

I found time to finish another running book - The Inner Runner by Jason Karp. As the title suggests, not a "how-to book" but one that deals more with the spiritual/mental/physical aspects and how they affect your well being. I especially liked the last chapter Becoming a Better Runner and a Better You. Much of what he says would apply to most any sport but you can't really participate in any sport without running, either. If you're a runner now, the book will help explain the appeal of running and the emotional boost it gives you. If you're not a runner, read the book and you might become one. Running, whether you're world class or just a duffer like I am, is good for what ails you.

Hit the streets, my friends. You owe it to yourselves.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bell Base

I got the base for the school house bell all welded up and ground down. I've got the cradles for the trunnions bolted on in the photo to check the hole placement and the spacing to make sure everything will work as designed before painting. I got it primed right after the photo. I'll get it painted black in the next couple of days. The Missus still hasn't decided on the color for the bell itself. I told her to come up with the color scheme in the next couple of days and I'll have this one wrapped up.

I saw both of these at the Daily Timewaster. I'm really starting to lust after a Jeep truck - especially those old ones. And as a man with way more tools than the average Joe, I don't need another screwdriver at the moment, but that's a spiffy set right there, by golly! I've got a couple of 3/8" drive bits like that now. One of them is for big clutch head screws that I needed for working on one of my old Chevys years ago. I'd be nice to have a wooden handle like that and then maybe get a couple more various types of drive bits for it. I doubt that Snap-On sells a set like that anymore. But if they did - I'd put it on my Christmas list.

I made a little progress on the motorbike again. I've got the chainguard pert near done. I made it out of two pieces to accommodate the frame tube. I've got a bit of welding to do on the guard itself and then make a couple of tabs to weld onto the frame to bolt it on. Should be able to get that taken care in the next few days along with a couple of other little jobs I've got going.

All in all, making good progress lately. I'm almost due for an "Atta Boy".

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pile O' Tubing

Tubing for the schoolhouse bell project all loaded up for transport to school. I'll weld everything together and grind it down there. We've got a big layout table to work on - that'll make it a bit easier.

If you look under the pile of tubing, you'll see an aluminum sheet. That's one of the pieces I picked up from my sister in law the other day. Just right for making a chainguard for a motorbike. We've got a 4' shear in the shop that'll give me a nice square cut. I can bend it in my brake at home. I would have sheared it here at the shack but as long as I was going to drive the truck to work, figured I might as well take it along. I've got another little job in the cab to make up also. It's a little bracket for hanging a railroad lantern in the corner of the room where I've got my train board. It's nothing fancy - but I took one down to use a pattern so they'll all match.

Shot a roll of black and white film Saturday morning using the old Franka Rolfix Jr. Jimmy's dad gave me an old folding camera a couple of weeks ago so I thought I might clean it up and try it out. As it ended up, however, it looks like the camera has been dropped while it was open and from a pretty good height. One of the rivets for the folding mechanism is gone and the lens is sitting askew when you fold it out. Since I had gotten a roll of film out, however, I loaded it up in the old Rolfix Jr.

That's the Rolfix Jr. on the left, along with the more sophisticated Franka Rolfix on the right. The Jr. is my mother's old camera that she used when us boys were all young pups. My older brother was born in '48, so I'm guessing that's about the vintage of the camera - something close to 70 years old. I shot some informal "snapshot" type portraits of my running buddy while we were scoping out the trail for our next outdoor boxing workout day. I mixed up a fresh batch of developer and processed the film that evening. The negatives look real good. Because it was sunny out, I was able to use a fast shutter speed and a small aperture which makes for a sharp focus on the negatives. This is the first time I've shot a roll of film in a few years. I'm planning on getting back into the photo hobby again once I retire. I've got an idea for a 4x5 box camera design I'd like to try and make someday. Might start sketching out ideas in earnest so I'll have something to do in the basement workshop this winter.

Not sure when I'll get around to printing any of Saturday's negatives - I've still got some from my trip to Europe I never got around to printing. The time change is just around the corner and I'm swearing off most television, so I should be able to spend time in the darkroom just about any evening I care to. Be good to do something non digital.