Thursday, August 27, 2015

Next In Line - Kaw 900

Since the Sportster's all buttoned up, I thought I'd do a little sheet metal therapy session and work on the 900.  Other than riveting in the Dzus fasteners, the sidecovers are done. I'm going to finish the ducktail & rear fender later this week. Try to finish up the swingarm after that. I want to widen the rear wheel. I think I can manage all of that on my own. It's going to be a little tricky but I've thought it through. The proof will be in the pudding, as they say. I've got the parts to add a second disc brake to the front end. It won't take much to install those but I need to get the back end put together again first. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to just stick it back together again so I can roll it around until I get the concrete finished. 

Only got about two more weeks until the Missus gets her PET scan, then a few days after that we'll see the doctor and find out where we stand with the lymphoma. While I'm expecting good news, the waiting is starting to weigh on me. I'm trying to stay busy and get a little something done around the shack every day and a little something on one of the projects every day. I've also been trying to put my affairs in order. I've got things squared away on the life insurance and some other things but I need to get an advanced medical directive/power of attorney, written instructions for my last wishes and draw up the pirate map so Surly can find the buried treasure out behind the barn. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Old Guy Purchasing Decisions

Out with the old -

In with the new.

Buying a new pairs of shoes usually isn't much of an event, however, things change a bit when you're only weeks away from your 65th birthday and you're talking bicycling shoes. The top pair has been in Washington, both the state and the District of Columbia, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. I've got no idea how many miles I've put on them but it was time for a new pair. 

I like mountain bike shoes because they have a stiff sole for cycling but you can still walk around in them off the bike. I don't use toe clips or SPD clips or anything. My touring bike has old "rat trap" pedals and the mountain bike has a pair of Wellgo platform pedals with some nubs on them to keep your feet from sliding off. My "go-fast" road bike has some nice MKS pedals, but again, no clips of any kind. So all I really need are shoes that fit, have a stiff sole, and be able to walk around in them comfortably.

The kicker comes when you're my age and you've already had the "infarto". The chances of me taking any more 500 mile bicycling trips are pretty slim. That being the case, do I even need cycling shoes? I could probably get by with most any kind of foot wear at the mileages I'm inclined to ride at this stage of my life. I used to ride all over hell's half acre when I was a kid in my Red Ball Jets or Chuck's and it never bothered me. Hell, I didn't even know there was such a thing as bicycling specific shoes. Anyway, I went ahead and bought the new pair because one, I can, and two, because it'll probably be the last pair I ever need to buy. 

I need to make the same decision on my ice skates also. One of the blades has come loose from the boot. Do I spring for a new pair? I gave all my hockey stuff to the Goodwill, so no more of that. If I go skating twice a winter for the next ten years, it's about a toss up between the price of a cheap pair of hockey skates or renting a pair whenever I go skating. If I buy a pair at least I can be sure of them lasting a lifetime. My old pal Joey used to joke about never even buying green bananas at his age. The poor bastard croaked at 42. Funny how age changes your perspective on life.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Mayor Blair Milo

The college hosted a convocation last week. As much as I hate meetings I went, figuring I couldn't do much else with the back still not up to snuff and I might learn a bit more about the mission of the college. Things got started with opening remarks from the Chancellor. His remarks were of the expected nature. He covered the necessary things like budget, personnel and other items of business - pretty much what I expected.  He was followed by the keynote speaker, which wasn't what I expected, Blair Milo, the Mayor of LaPorte. Ms Milo is quite the young lady - only thirty-two years old, Master's Degree, Ensign in the US Navy, ran a marathon earlier this year. Obviously a real go-getter.

Mayor Milo based her remarks primarily around a graph from the book Coming Apart written by Charles Murray. The graph shows that in the last 50 years or so the percentage of wealth by the small percentage at the top has grown enormously while everyone else at or near the middle class and down, their wealth has remained the same. On the mayor's hand drawn graph, the line representing the growth at the top was like she was drawing the Matterhorn as steep as it was. For the rest of us working stiffs, a flat line. I was expecting the mayor to start with the Robin Hood thing of tax the rich and give to the poor but that wasn't the case. She's fine with the rich being rich, she's not fine with the rest of us struggling along with no improvement in sight. Her answer? Education and jobs. That's an over simplification of a very fine presentation, but that's always what it boils down to.

There were several panel discussions after the mayor's speech with people from the college and the community and again, through partnerships with business, industry, chambers of commerce, The United Way and others, the answer to improving the lives of individuals and communities is education and jobs. How do we get there?

The Chancellor, the Mayor and the panel discussions were all centered around the theme of engagement. To make a difference, everyone, at all levels, needs to be engaged to bring about positive change. (One of the things I've always maintained is that schools, especially at the lower levels, don't do near enough to get and keep students engaged in their educations. I doubt seriously Common Core is going to help matters anymore than No Child Left Behind did.You need to play to their strengths but I'll save that one for my manifesto.) The panel discussions told of just how this engagement is currently playing out and ways for all of us at the college to get involved and become more engaged.

On a side note, when her Honor the Mayor mentioned Charles Murray, the name rang a bell but I couldn't place it at first. Charles Murray was the co-author of The Bell Curve that came out about twenty years ago. It caused a big stink in educational circles at the time. I've never read it but I remember the uproar. I am intrigued by Coming Apart. I might tackle that one this winter.

All in all, not a bad day at the convocation. It's good to hang around with people smarter than you are once in a while.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Almost There

Here it is - does everything but run. I took it down off the work stand so I could move some things around in the front part of the shop. I need to get as much moved out of the way as possible so my buddy will be able to run the bull float when we pour the concrete in back. It was time to get it off the stand anyway. I think it's just add fluids and she'll be ready to go. I put the plugs in it and kicked it over a couple of times just to see what it's going to take to turn it over. I might be in trouble if it doesn't light off after two or three stabs on the kicker. If I'm going to keep it, might have to build a set of rollers this winter. Regardless, it looked good sitting out there in the sun yesterday. The pictures don't really do it justice. Maybe I'll see about starting it up this coming week. All depends on the schedule and the back muscles.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Photos From Here
It's been a busy week. I went to a convocation for the college, got my syllabi posted for the start of classes next week, got some work done on the concrete prep for the shop, got the gas tank on the Sportster, and a bunch of other piddly stuff along with the normal household chores. The weather has been beautiful the last couple of days. Good weather to be working on things. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


When Surly came down on Saturday he brought a ukulele that he had purchased. It's a fairly large one. Since I know next to nothing about stringed instruments in general and ukuleles in particular, I didn't realize that there were soprano, tenor, concert, bass and who knows what else ukes, including banjo ukuleles or banjoleles as they are also called. He mentioned the name Roy Smeck who I had never heard of. That's him in the video. Wizard of the Strings they called him. Boy Howdy! That boy could play.

Surly is going to be farting around with his new uke and maybe attempting a cigar box transplant on the one the boys made in the wood shop. Since hearing about the banjo ukulele, I'm thinking that's what I should try for my next musical instrument build. Looks like it would be pretty easy to build one and the cost would be reasonable. Seems to be plenty of information on websites and YouTube about building and playing them.

Here's a store bought one, and a rather expensive one at that, but a small hand drum, a neck, tuners, bridge, tailpiece, and strings could easily be put together for less than a "C" note. I checked out the prices online for 8" hand drums and there are some cheap tune-able head ones available. Looks like it doesn't take much to stick the neck on it. It'll be just the thing when I decide to lay down the tools and sit on the porch in a few years.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Some More TIG

My buddy with the Triumph TR3 that came down a few weeks back called the other day. I figured he was going to ask about the pump end plate that's in the photo. Instead, it was to tell me of the passing of his mother, God rest her soul. I only met her a couple of times but she was a nice lady and an extremely talented artist, especially in the art of Polish paper cutting. Made it all the way to 97. I went to pay my respects and took the pump part with me - he's going to have enough on his plate for awhile with out making a trip down. 

I've still got his fender to repair and a couple of other jobs for people but I figured I was up by one, at least until I went out to pick up some dinner for the Missus and ran into the lady that runs the big 5K race here. I made some sign brackets for her once before. She needs some more and has a  few that need some TLC. Nice thing about this job is that she won't need them for a year. The way I work, probably take that long.

When I got home from the visitation, Surly was hard at work moving things out of the back of the shop. He got it pretty well cleaned out. There's still a couple of cabinets that need to be emptied and moved and the wood burning stove, but it's about 95% bare. The floor is sand and it's close to being at the proper level so it won't take too much to get it leveled out and tamped down. I'll get a hold of the ex-Building Trades instructor and see what his schedule is and get this concrete thing taken care of before too much longer. On the subject of the Building Trades class, I ran over to the old high school the other day to see my replacement and he said they haven't filled the position. Apparently they hired someone for the job but they bailed out two days before school started. So if you're looking for a job like that in Northwest Indiana, let me know and I'll get you the info.

I went out into the shop the other night to put the gas tank on the Sportster and imagine my surprise when I found out the petcock won't work on the tank. In the last incarnation, the bike had a big tank like off a big twin and it used a different thread. Bummer! New one is ordered though. 

Back's much better, I'm welding parts again and making forward progress. It's all good.