Saturday, August 1, 2015

Trade School

There was a letter to the editor in the Thursday Wall Street Journal from Ryan Blythe, Executive Director of the Georgia Trade School, in response to the editorial "College Aid Means Higher Tuition". Mr. Blythe's response:

Your editorial is on target and shouldn't be limited only to exposing the weaknesses of traditional four-year institutions. In the trade-school industry, priorities are often misplaced because of the level of student aid schools receive. As a result, the focus becomes on managing the government bureaucracy behemoth and not on the quality of the instruction or the student experience. Working in that kind of environment led me to a radical decision to launch a welding school that, like the widely lauded Hillsdale College, is entirely free from federal student loans. As a result, we can spend 65% of our expenses on the welding laboratory and instruction team and not on administrative bloat. This approach keeps our costs at one-third of similar programs that market financial aid services. Where else can you learn a trade for only $8,000 that will make you incredibly marketable in an economy begging for skills? In an era where the average college graduate faces $28,000 in debt as he or she begins a career, our graduates report they have earned back their educational  investment in a single quarter.

Something to think about there, now. Leave the feds out of the loop and you end up with a better product and at a lower price. I don't know how much monkey business the college where I'm employed has to deal with to satisfy the federal requirements but I know that I have to report active enrollment and a few other things in a timely fashion for the purposes of federal reporting. I also know that the college is on the hook for repaying a substantial amount of money due to students leaving school early after using up their financial aid money. That has to drive the cost of tuition up.

President Obama tossed out the idea of free community college tuition but I'm sure even he realizes that's not a workable idea during his time in office. However, when you plant the idea to a bunch of people already in debt for their education, it's probably good for a few votes down the road. Of course, people with a debt load of $28,000 really can't afford to be paying more in taxes to pay for someone else's college education, now can they? Especially when you look at some of the interest rates they're paying. You can get a car loan these days for 2.5% but you're saddled with a student loan at 7.5%? Two major economic principles at work here - opportunity cost and compound interest. Always need to keep those two in mind before signing on the dotted line.

There's a welding school out in the country that I see a sign for when I'm out that way. I should check it out while I'm on vacation. I would assume it's a private school/cash and carry deal. Must be doing something right, they've now got a second sign on another state highway.

Bottom line here? Get a job, save your money, go to trade school, get a better job, live debt free happily ever after.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dirt Version

Photo From Here
My idea of an ADV bike. Apparently, someone else's idea as well.

Photo From Here
#9? Must be Nixon.

Photo From Here
Always an option if we ever get back to the BSA.

The current issue of Motorcyclist has an article about riding the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route. While I still don't see the attraction of those huge ADV bikes, I definitely felt the attraction of riding around the back roads of Idaho or one of the other similar trails. I've ridden a little bit of Idaho on my bicycle and I'd love to go back out there. The website has a link to put you in touch with a couple of outfits that rent bikes. A Kawasaki KLR 650 would be just the ticket for a week in rural Idaho or Colorado. Some hardbags would be nice but I could strap most everything on the back if I had to. Add a tank bag and I'd be set to go. I've learned how to pack light from the bicycle and hiking trips I've done over the years. If brother Johnny was still around, we'd do a trip together. We both rode motorcycles since we were kids but we never really rode together. Damn shame we missed that opportunity.

Last week of summer school, then a three week vacation.  Should be able to get some more forward progress made during that time on both bike projects and things around the shack. The wife is still suffering some blow-back from the chemo - not so much sick, just no giddy-up - so I'm still doing all the household chores around the shack. Hopefully that will start easing up and she can get up and around a bit more. She's going crazy laying around the house. It'd be nice if we could get away for a couple of days before the fall semester starts. Be even nicer when we can put this all behind us.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Tail Lights & Twilight

Tail Light

Tail Light


When I ordered the tail light for the trailer, I ordered another one to put on my bicycle. The bracket was already there but I had managed to knock the light off some place along the line. All I had to do to put the new one on was unbolt the bracket, drill a hole and bolt everything back on. It's small, bright and out of the way. It should last for a while.

The middle photo is a tail light and license plate bracket for the black & orange Sprint. I already had the bracket but I scabbed the light off the Sprint and put it on the 900 when I was making the fender and ducktail for it. I ordered a couple of things for the Sportster so I threw in a light while I was at it. One step closer on that one.

Obviously the order of bike parts came in, so in addition to bolting up the tail light on the Sprint, I put the wire wrap on the Sportster oil pressure sending unit wire and the wire from the coil to the points. I ordered the parts from J&P but the wire wrap package was marked Kuryakan. It's a bit salty but it looks much nicer than the corrugated plastic stuff that looks like scaled down drain pipe. Three 16 gauge wires will fit nicely in the 1/4" size, by the way. I still need to work on the front brake but that's just about all that's left. 

I pulled a wheel off my old Plymouth hot rod project yesterday. It's been slowly sinking into the dirt, so I was going to air up the tires and move it out of the ruts. Worked OK on three out of four tires but on one of them the valve stem gave up the ghost. I'll take it to the tire shop and get that fixed. I don't plan on tackling that project any time soon but if I don't get it up in the air a bit the whole bottom is going to rust away. This is one I should just get all the parts bolted back on and then find it a new home. 

The last photo is just a shot of the sky the other evening. We've had some crazy weather this year. I mowed the front yard Saturday before it rained. No rain yesterday but it looked like it was fixin' to more than once. Looking at high 80's, low 90's for the upcoming week with some rain thrown in there mid-week. That's pretty much typical for this time of year, though. Probably will be just enough rain to keep the grass growing. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bike Trailer

The little blinky light the Missus ordered for me came in yesterday. It's perfect for my application. Seems to be well made. Machined from aluminum, O-ring seal to keep the water out, continuous, fast or slow flashing modes. Only a couple of bucks, free shipping and it got here within a few days. Within minutes of opening up the package I was out in the shop finishing up the project - a little metal work on the fender, cut off a couple of screws, polished up the copper fender stays, painted the fender and a quick re-paint on the rest of the trailer. Looks good. Done deal! 

I'll be back on the Sportster now and the black and orange Sprint as my in between project. Neither one of those need much to finish up. I did order a couple more things for the Sportster. They should be in either today or Monday. 

Have a good weekend.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mower Manure

As fast as the grass has been growing I thought I'd put on the set of newly sharpened spare blades and clean the underside of the deck. As you can see from the photo, probably a good thing I did. The middle of the pile is about 8" high - about 4 scoop shovel fulls. Smelled like a cow barn. Some sweet like silage and some not so sweet. Mowing has become the top priority around here. I can't fall behind or I'll be in big trouble. There's no way I'm going to rake everything I have to mow, so if it's not raining, you can pretty much figure I'm mowing. And swatting mosquitoes. The hot weather must have hatched out another batch. Definitely don't want to be outside in the gloaming.

The bicycle trailer is just about finished. I made the brackets and got those drilled, tapped and welded on to the trailer frame. The brace in the back is made from copper tubing. There's a bracket sticking up off the top of the fender that was used as a mounting tab when it was on the bicycle. I've got a light coming that should bolt right on there. I might have to make a couple of little sheet metal gussets to strengthen it a bit - cross that bridge when the light shows up. I also put a little up sweep on the trailing edge of the fender. A little hot rod touch. It still needs just a bit more metal work but I'll take care of that prior to paint.

They called me in to work an extra day in the lab this week to help assemble some tables. Only worked about an hour and then the next day when I went in on my regular schedule there wasn't anything to do. Didn't make much sense but I know better than to question what goes on in schools anymore. While I was up that way I ran some errands and hit the Mazda dealer to check out a Miata. The salesman said they'll be getting a 2016 in the 2nd or 3rd week of August. I made my last health insurance premium this week, so maybe I'll buy me that sports car after all. I also had to take the Missus to the doctor one day and had to pay the pre-buy on the winter's propane supply. So first we headed 25 miles north of home and then we headed south 50 miles and then back north 25 miles to get back where we started from. It's no wonder I haven't been getting anything done. That's OK, though. Better days are coming.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mr. Dean

50 years later and I've still got the jacket.

Mr. Leon Dean, one of the teachers I had in high school passed away the other day at the ripe old age of 91. I had him for three years of Ag class even though I didn't really see myself going into farming. I liked the mechanical end of farming but like a lot of guys in high school, much of what I signed up for was only because I didn't like my other options, that and the fact my mother was bound and determined to see that I went to college which further limited my options.

Not only did Mr. Dean teach the different Ag classes but he was also the advisor/sponsor for FFA. At that time FFA actually stood for Future Farmers of America. (Now it's just three initials but that's a story for another day.) I held a couple offices in the organization and participated in several of the various contests. At one time I was the number one poultry judge in the whole county, I'll have you know! We took field trips out to farms, went to a farm progress show, sponsored an annual turkey shoot, participated in contests he coached and none of us hooligans really appreciated, or even knew, all he did for us. I know he was very proud of my older brother and all of his accomplishments in the ag field. I think he had me rightly pegged as a guy who wasn't living up to his potential when I was in high school. All I really wanted from high school was to get out. In my defense, I think the fact that I was a slug in high school helped make me a better shop teacher later on, however.

Reading the obituary it was no surprise to see all that he had done after he left the local high school and moved to a career center a few counties east, as well as what he was involved in after his retirement. He was a good man who helped a lot of young men and women get started along their life paths. There's a lot more to education than just learning a subject. RIP Mr. Dean.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"Nothing Could Be Finer"

When my buddy came down this past weekend I offered him an adult beverage - don't think I've ever known him to turn one down in the last thirty years or so - and when he saw that it was a Shiner Bock he mentioned that he had seen a couple riding around on a pair of Shiner Bock bicycles. That piqued my curiosity so I did an internet search and the above photo came up from an Ebay auction. Price is reasonable, if I was in the market for another bike which I'm definitely not, and it's within driving distance to haul it home. However, nothing else with wheels comes in unless something else goes out. Be better if two things went out in fact. 

I did see where a small town south of me is having a bike ride in September. There are various length rides from 5 to 100 miles. I'm thinking the 31 mile route would be about right. I haven't ridden much this summer but with a couple of months to train I should be able to get the old legs shaped up enough to complete the ride with a minimum of pain and strain. Even if it continues to rain like it has been or stays with temps in the 90's, I can always use my trainer down the basement until I can get out on the road in earnest. I haven't been keeping any regular workout schedule since my wife got sick but I need to get back in the saddle, literally, for both my mental and physical health. 

Calling for a beautiful day today. Think I'll go for a ride.