Sunday, August 20, 2017

Heavy Bags

Heavy bag hangers for the gym. I dropped them off the other night, so my part is done. I got the new tires and tubes installed on the touring bicycle and got the grips re-glued on the city bike as well. Moving on to other partially completed projects like the deck off the end of the barn and maybe hit a few licks on the VW. No shortage of things to do.

If you've got a few minutes to kill and you have even a passing interest in Industrial Design, you should check out the film about Raymond Loewy at Silodrome. It's an old piece that was shown on 60 Minutes. It's about 15 minutes in length but it will be time well spent. Also stumbled across a video of the new Jeep truck. Of course it's a 4 door and it looks like it's set for a 2019 release. Looks nice from what you can see, though.

I start school tomorrow, finish in December. Really looking forward to full time retirement. I'm sure it won't make much difference in what I get accomplished but I'm sure I'll be a lot happier. I've been working for 50 years - that's enough. My boss did mention the other day that he had to cancel a few classes for the spring semester. I think he was trying to make me feel a little guilty - not much chance of that, however. Starting tomorrow I'm counting down from 31!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bicycle News

Since I'm waiting on my new tires for my touring bike, I drug the old "city bike" out, washed it off and aired up the tires so I can get some miles in before the ride I'm planning in a couple of weeks. I've got my "racer" I could ride but I wanted to get this one out and ride it a bit anyway.

Surly and I bought a box of tubing with enough pieces to make two bikes quite a few years back. This is what I ended up with my half of the parts. A bike with dimensions that fit me well, 7 speed shifter on the bars and 700 x 37 tires good for both paved and gravel roads. I used this as my commuter for a couple of years before retiring from the high school. The rack on the back is stainless hydraulic tubing from cut-offs Surly got for me from where he used to work. Everything is silver brazed together. The handlebar is from a cheap department store bike that is turned upside down in the photo but is now right side up as it should be. If I was going to ride this thing more often I'd invest in a nice aluminum mustache bar. It's got cork handgrips, which are pretty nice. Unfortunately, one of them has come loose so I need to get some contact cement and fix that. Also, the seat's pretty hard. It too is a cheapie but I ordered a similar style one off of eBay that's leather and sprung. Don't know how good it will be for $15.00 but at that price I'm willing to gamble.

I'd like to build myself a new mountain bike. The one I've got is one of the first they came out with way back when. It's a Peugeot my brother gave me after he got out of the Army. He's a bit shorter than I am, so the bike's a bit small for me. Hasn't stopped me from riding it the last 25 years or so but I'd like one that fits me, is a bit lighter and has a sprung fork. And I'd like to build another bike just because I really enjoyed building the one above. Maybe consider it if I get a couple of motorbike and car projects finished up. Of course by the time I get caught up on those I'll probably be too old to ride a bike.

As for the rest of you - get out on your bike/walk/run - get yourself some exercise. Best thing you can do for yourself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Typical Days

Been an interesting few days lately. Sunday was the wife's birthday and she decided it would be nice to cook some stuff on the grill for us and the rest of the family. She mentioned the night before there would probably be a wasp nest under the grill cover, so look out. Sure enough. Only I didn't even get the cover off before I got stung on the knuckle. It's always amazed me that a wasp doesn't even have to land on you to sting you - they can zap you on the way by and give you enough venom to cause a good amount of swelling. And pain, of course.

Later she needed some butter from the freezer downstairs, so off I went only to discover the freezer had quit working. Fortunately, it must have happened not too long before I opened it up because the stuff on the top was soft but the stuff on the bottom was still frozen solid. Lot better than the last time that happened and everything had melted and the meat had all gone bad. The wife's sister had a freezer that she no longer used and was wanting to sell so Surly met me at her house and we brought it home and I got everything transferred or tossed as needed. After all that the Missus gave up on grilling and we went out for dinner instead. Came back to the house and had birthday cake, so it was all good.

Going along with the theme of old equipment giving up the ghost, I jumped on the bicycle the other night and didn't get too far before feeling something wrong with the front tire. Looks like the belts broke and put a bend in it. The tire has a lot of miles on it but I hadn't planned on changing it this year. I ordered a pair of Schwalbe Marathons to put on the bike. They seem to be the gold standard of touring tires. I talked to my old "saddle pal" a week or so ago and we might be doing the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska next year and these new tires should be just the ticket for road or trail.

I talked to a salesman from the Ducati shop I visited the other day. I was about to pull the trigger on the Icon Scrambler but we couldn't make a deal. I wanted to trade off the SV650 but he said they had a house rule of no trades on bikes over ten years old - mine's eleven. He said he'd knock off $1K on a cash deal but by the time he added in the sales tax and all the rest of the fees, he added back $1.5K. I understand there's no way around the $560 on the sales tax, but another $1000 for prep and title fees? Seems a bit excessive to me, plus I still would have to do something with the SV. Maybe I can make a deal on an Enfield. I might go check out the big dual-purpose singles that Suzuki and Kawasaki both sell. I've got a trip or two I'd like to take and one of those could be fun.

I did make some progress out in the shop. These are parts for heavy bag hangers for the boxing gym. All set to start welding them together. I'll get those finished up this week and move on to a couple of other jobs that have been stalled. I did get most of my yard work completed. The old place looks much better after some weed/brush control and a little judicious landscaping. Still could use a little more TLC but I'm planning on taking care of some of that later this Fall.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Racewalking Champ!

Did well at the 5K on Saturday. I was the first male walker in and the second over all. I started out near the back of the pack to stay clear of the runners but the lady who came in ahead of me must have started pretty close to the front. I closed the gap and was doing OK until about the 2-1/2 mile mark and I threw in the towel. I might have been able to catch her but I didn't want to risk running out of gas and have someone else pass me if I faded. 

Beautiful day for the race. My running/cycling buddy paced me to keep me going. We usually chat while we're out there but not today. In addition to trying to get another shoe, I had a side bet with my buddy Jimmy - he with the bum feet. The bet was I could walk it faster than he could run it. I didn't make it so I owe him a dinner and a beer. If it wasn't for the bet, however, I probably wouldn't have won the shoe. All in good fun plus I got a sweatshirt. Hard to beat that.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Drop The Big One

"Boom goes London, Boom Paree - Japanese kimono for you babe, Italian shoes for me." 

So here we go again. If you're my age you grew up with the nuclear threat. Of course, I was born only a few years after the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombs were dropped and the world saw what atomic bombs were capable of, and no one wanted that to happen again. Especially on us here in the U.S. Ended up that Khrushchev didn't bury us and the Soviet Union fell apart and, for at least a little while, we were sort of safe from the threat of communism and nuclear annihilation. Now we're back at it again with North Korea launching missiles and all the rest of the craziness going on in the world.

I'm guessing all the preppers are going to be changing their focus to nuclear warfare and bugging out isn't going to be a very good option unless you've got a place like this to go to.

Photo From Here

And you're going to have to have plenty of advance warning if you want to get there before you're consumed in the fireball or taken out by the fallout. I don't live too far from Chicago and the news folks say N. Korea could hit it with one of there missiles. I might be OK if the wife and I could live in the basement for a couple of weeks with the dog and cats. Liable to get pretty stinky down there after a few days, however. I need one of those outside air intakes with the filter like in the picture.

I've about done all I'm going to as far as preparing for a disaster. We had the hurricane force winds come through a few years back that knocked the new barn down but we weren't without power for any length of time. We did have an ice storm that left us without power for 4-5 days about 15 years ago. Since the weather was cold, that was a little uncomfortable, but we managed. I was about to start tapping the water heater for our drinking water when help arrived and the power came back on about the same time.

I've since taken further precautions but you can only do so much. My time is running out and I'm not going to waste a lot of it worrying on what ifs. However, if you haven't seen the movie Hiroshima Mon Amour, you might want to seek it out. It was made in 1959 which was just about at the peak of the Cold War. It's a pretty artsy-fartsy love story with the devastation of an atomic bomb thrown in, but you would expect that considering the time period and an avant garde film maker. 

And there's still no good answer to the question of why can't we live together.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Indy Trip

I went to Indy yesterday to get some advice from the financial guy and hit a couple of bike shops and Trader Joe's as I'm wont to do. I went to Speed City Cycle first off. They handle Royal Enfield, Ural and a couple brands of scooters. This is the first time I've been there. It's a small place but lots of bikes inside. I had a nice chat with the owner. He said Royal Enfield is currently selling 65,000 bikes per month world wide. That's quite the sales figure. He updated me on the progress of the Himalayan model - it's completing all the testing required for EPA and CARB requirements. Said it won't be too much longer and he should have a couple of them in.

I also stopped at the Ducati shop on the way home. First time I've been there as well. There's a 2016 Icon scrambler model on the showroom floor the owner said he'd cut me a decent deal on. I'd really like to get a new bike but I don't really know what I want. The Ducati is about the limit as far as price goes. It's also about as big a displacement as I want. The Enfield would be a cool little toy and I think it would be just the ticket for one of my "bucket list" items but the I'd get a lot more motorcycle for not much more money if I went with the Ducati. I'll keep thinking it over. Probably end up just keeping the SV650. As little as I ride, it does just fine but I'd really like to get a new bike.

I'm planning on finally getting back in the shop today. I've still got a few things to do around the yard but it's time to do a bit of fabricating. I've got a 5K Saturday and that should be about it for the race walking for a while. I'll be back on the bicycle trying to get some miles in to shape up for a couple of upcoming events. 

Have a good weekend - supposed to be really nice here the next few days. Get out and enjoy it.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Smokestack from the Oliver Chilled Iron Plow works in South Bend. It's just down the road from the Studebaker Museum. It's a little tough to see in the photo but the name Oliver is spelled out up top. This one would have been good in black & white - sort of a Rodchenko style. I've had the itch lately to shoot a roll or two of the medium format or maybe drag out the 4x5 and shoot a few with that. A lot of the stuff I work on or travel to see lends itself to B&W. I know the digital stuff can be converted to B&W easy enough but I'd like to get back in the dark room and fool around a bit, plus, I'd like to try a few portraits like Rodchenko and some of the others of that era did.