Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Definitely a sign of Spring when the magnolias start to blossom. Beautiful weather over the weekend. I got a lot done around the shack, just nothing much worth an "in depth report". I did carve a path through the back of the shop, filled up a garbage can with junk and made a scrap run that netted me $45.00. I also got the Suzuki out and rode down the road to a former student's house. He picked up an old Husqvarna that someone had used for a rain gauge and was looking for a little advice on getting the thing unstuck. He's been out of school for a while now and is wanting to learn some machining skills, so we talked a little motorcycles and machining.

While perusing the vast World Wide Web I came across this site the other day: Chickens and steam trains - how cool is that? There's a video of a pair of Chinese steamers running in Iowa that is definitely worth three minutes of your time. Says there will be an excursion in September. That might be worth a road trip.

My buddy Kevin stopped by the other day and dropped off a copy of his dissertation. Said he came through his defense with flying colors, so he's officially a Ph.D. now. The boy done good.

Three more weeks of school until the end of the semester. Looking forward to vacation. I've got lots to do around here and I'll be teaching two days a week this summer but I should be able to get at least a few motorcycle things done - famous last words.

Have a good week.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Golden Gloves

Went to Indy last night for the Golden Gloves finals. "Bazooka Joe" was in the Open Division championship round. He didn't fight as well as he normally does, unfortunately. Joe is super strong and super lean, and always in great shape. He usually fights guys that are shorter than he is and in poorer physical condition so he can put the pressure on them using his superior reach and conditioning. As soon as they slow down a little, wham, he lets them have it. Last night he fought a guy who was almost the mirror image of himself and I think he just couldn't quite figure out how to slip the right hand in there and put the guy to sleep. He rocked the guy a couple of times and one of the judges had him ahead on the cards but it just wasn't enough. It's too bad but that's the fight game. 

It was a good night out even without a win, though. It's been a couple of years since I'd been there. They've painted up the inside of the Armory and there were a lot of good bouts. Fortunately, I could sleep in this morning instead of going to work like I used to the day after the fights. April was always a killer when I was making several trips to the fights, working on the high mileage car and doing all the other crazy things I was always busy with. Nice to be able to slow down and enjoy things a bit more.

Looks like good weather for the weekend. Enjoy it if you've got it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Indiana Tax Freedom Day

Chart From Here

For those of us in Indiana, today is Tax Freedom Day, meaning from this point in the year forward I'll be working for myself rather than the government. If I was living in Louisiana I would have met my obligations a couple of weeks ago. If I was in Connecticut or New Jersey, I'd still have a couple of weeks to go. Something to think about if one was to consider relocating.

I suppose paying close to one third of your income to the various state, local and federal governments isn't so bad for what you get in return - unless you actually pay attention to where your money goes. It is convenient that Tax Freedom Day so neatly coincides with the IRS tax due day. You can file your return, mail them the check and know that from this point forward you get to keep the rest. Small consolation, perhaps, but consolation just the same.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boxing, Bikes and Welding. These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

When faced with a thousand projects, where do you start? With a fun one, of course. I want to get a speed bag hung up around the house here so I needed to cut a couple of identical circles out of the piece of 3/4" particle board I bought a couple of weeks back. With my woodworking set up, it seemed the router was the best bet. I made up the circle cutting gizmo to hold hold the router and used it to scribe the circles and route the edge of the particle board nice and round. I rough cut them with a saber saw first staying about an 1/8" proud of the line. Finished with two identical circles and a tool for the next time I need to do something similar. Hard to beat that. Now that I've got the platform boards cut I need to pick up a couple of 2x4's so I can get the job finished up. I swung by the high school and picked up the swivel that was on the platform I had in the Weld Shoppe. Dave said he had an identical one at home so he unscrewed my old one and sent me on my way. I also need to pick up a little hardware for the double end bag so I can get that installed. I was going to put it downstairs but decided up on top would be better.

We got a surprise visit from a couple of my nephews over the weekend. The younger one is still planning a big bicycle ride I mentioned in a previous post. Seems as if there have been a few major changes, however. He has a couple of new people he's planning on riding with and the route has changed. He'll be starting in Vancouver, B.C. and heading southward until he hits San Diego. Two of the members will head for home at that point and he and the remaining rider will continue south on the Pan-American Highway. Sounds pretty damn ambitious to me - and a little scary. It's bad enough dealing with all the cars, dogs, people, weather and road hazards when you're close to civilization and there's no language barrier to overcome. Not so sure I'd try that trip.  He's supposed to head out in about 6 weeks. He'll be posting to Facebook and a blog as he travels. Hope all works out as planned. Or at least works out even if it's not the way it was planned. That's sometimes the best on big adventures.

Got some training on the new virtual welder at the college Monday. It's pretty cool. It will do stick, MIG and FCAW on a variety of joint types and positions. All of us old guys had a little trouble getting the helmet adjusted to our eyes.  It'll take a little time to see what works best for us, glasses on/glasses off, reading glasses instead of bifocals, or utilize the "cheater lens" function built into the machine. I'm not sure yet how to best utilize the machine with my classes but I'll play around with it some more and see what comes to me. I was looking at  the website and saw that there's a bend test function with it. You can weld up a Vee groove and then it will both a face and root coupon and print out a certificate of the results. That's pretty cool. I'm definitely going to have to come in early a few days and play around with it. In order to simulate a real welding environment, however, I might have to round up some bees to turn loose in the room when they're welding to simulate the welding sparks. Maybe just light up a big cigar, blow smoke in their face and flick the hot ashes on them to get the true welding experience.

And finally, woke up to more snow this morning. Won't it ever end?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bee-you-ti-full Day

Absolutely gorgeous day yesterday. Temperature high 60's, lots of sun and a nice little breeze. I got the garden worked up to the point where it's pert near ready to plant. I had a little help from the chicken but I did most of the heavy lifting. The rhubarb is up as can be seen in the middle photo and the first flowers of the season are up as well. Took the dog for a walk and hung a load of clothes out on the line. Been a long time coming. Should be warm again today. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Life Is Good

Photo From Here
Two year anniversary of the grabber today. Not having any issues, thank you very much. The blood's still flowing and I've been following all the recommendations from the medical authorities, which if I continue to do will probably cause me problems down the road. I'm still having trouble trying to figure out how treatment and prevention of heart disease can be all over the map like it is. High fat, low fat, polyunsaturated fat, trans fat, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, carbohydrates. One guy recommends statin drugs to keep the cholesterol down, the next guy says cholesterol's not the problem, it's sugar. The next guy after that says gluten and carbs are the real culprits. Hard to put your faith in doctors when they can't agree on even the most basic of dietary guidelines. Seems like the only thing they agree on is that we all need to get some exercise and keep the stress level in check.

Serendipitously, my focus lately has been on brain health. I came across the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter and it focuses on the role gluten plays in your brain health as well as your over all health. I'm not very familiar with the Paleo diet but from what little I do know, it sounds like he's making a similar pitch. Eat fats, not carbs, don't worry about the cholesterol. Eat some cold water fish and grass fed beef, get some exercise and sleep, steer clear of sugar in most any form.

When I finished the Grain Brain I started on Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot by Dr. Richard Restak as recommended by Surly. Not done with this one yet but it's all about how to improve your brain function. Each of the 28 chapters in the book is one step you can take "to improve your brain's cognitive performance by increasing alertness, concentration, memory, problem-solving ability, mental endurance, and much more".
It's a short book, just a touch over 200 pages but from what I've read, very intriguing. Obviously, you won't get smarter over night, actually maybe you will, if you decide to take the lessons to heart and follow the steps. Most of the steps will take a little time to become ingrained but should show good returns over the long haul.

I suffered a serious accident many years ago that cracked my skull and pinched my frontal lobe a little. Additionally, between that accident, boxing, motorcycles, wrestling, and an industrial accident, I've had at least a half dozen concussions. They've had a few lasting effects on me but they're normally not too noticeable, to others at least. I am starting to have some issues with vertigo but that could be unrelated. Because of this, family history, and just plain getting old, I'm very interested in staying as sharp as I can as I, hopefully, continue to age for many more years. I'd like to know that what I'm doing for my heart health is also the best for my brain health as well as keeping diabetes at bay and optimizing my over all health.

It appears that my generation will be putting a huge financial drain on the medical field with the number of Alzheimer patients they're predicting in the future. In addition to the financial costs, there is the terrible personal cost to one's family and friends - I told the Missus just to club me like a baby harp seal if I end up that way. The point is, like our heart health, we can do a lot to protect our brain health. Since the medical profession prefers to treat rather than prevent, it remains up to us to do all we can to stay healthy in spite of the conflicting advice we hear so often. In my case, no jelly beans, no doughnuts and most definitely, no cheap sandwich cookies. Keep exercising, stay positive and in the interest of stress reduction, stay away from dumb-ass school administrators.

Life is a beautiful gift. Let's make the most of it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Garden Time - Well, All Most

Had some more tomato stakes made up by the boys at the high school. Look pretty sexy - just need to get a little primer on them and I'll be ready to go. The tomato starts are looking good - about three inches tall right now. Now that the weather is warming up a bit I can start putting them outside during the day to harden them up a bit. I got some peas planted over the weekend and I should be able to get my blueberry bushes planted this week also. I'd like to get some strawberries planted this year but don't know if that will happen. The nice thing is that the weather is in fact warming up and I'm able to get out and do a little something.

The high school also knocked out three pieces like the one in the photo for the Flex Lab at the college. These are to hold the jumper wires they use to connect up all the different configurations on the electrical trainers. You would think we could make these in house here at the college. In fact, there is a CNC plasma in the welding lab but from what I've been told, at this point it's all show and no go. It would be nice to have it at my disposal but can't have everything. I couldn't have made these any nicer than Dave did anyway.

I did make out at the college the other day. They cut up a table to make room for the new virtual welder and there was some 4" angle left over. It's all short pieces but plenty big enough to use to make a skid for the back of my tractor I can use to haul my gas drive welder around. I was toying with the idea of making one or just buying a small trailer. My minds made up now. I finished cutting it apart Monday and measured up the length of all the pieces. I'll design it around the lengths of the material. I'm not looking for anything fancy just a rectangular frame I can hang off the three point hitch. As soon as I come up with a design I'll start putting it together. I can go in to work a little early a couple of days and knock it out pretty quick. There's a Tractor Supply close to the school so getting the hitch pins will not only be easy enough but will be about the only expense. I love it when a plan comes together.