Sunday, June 17, 2018

Been having a bit of trouble in the computer department. I've got the big one out for a hardrive exchange and the laptop is still plagued by a lack of memory. Some am I, truth be told, but there's probably not much I can do about that.

The well guy finally showed up and got the new well drilled last week. He was supposed to come back the following day for the hook-up but there was an emergency at one of the dairy farms that took precedence. Hopefully he'll be here on Monday so I can get that job wrapped up.

I got the new tire on the sidecar wheel, so that job is just about finished. Time to start on the bike.

Due to the computer issues, I went into the college the other day to write up a recommendation letter and to take care of a few other things while I was in the neighborhood. I ran into my boss while typing up the letter. One of the instructors has taken a new position and the boss was not too subtlety feeling me out about coming back and teaching a few classes again. He said he was really pleased with how I handled the Fab class and he'd really like for me to teach it again. Have to see about that.

Happy Father's Day to all you Daddy-O's out there. Stay cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Service Economy, My Ass

I called Sirius radio yesterday. Since I'm paid up until February, I went ahead and bought one of their portable radios to put in the truck. I wish I could have talked to a native English speaker, however. Working in weld shops and around hot rods and race cars all these years, my hearing is not all that it was, and when you toss in someone from a service center located in India it's a bit tough for both of us. It got worse when I called Dell.

The little laptop I bought in March ran low on memory about the time I took it out of the package. Windows has a couple of updates which basically brought the thing to the point is was barely useable. After being on the phone with their service rep for about 45 minutes he fixed it up so it no longer works at all. He was very nice but I had even more trouble understanding him. After he gave up on the fix he transferred me to someone else who said since it wasn't a hardware problem, he could fix me up but I would be charged for the service. Again, he was hard to understand but I understood enough to know I'm not going to pay to upgrade something that's only three months old. I think I'll scrap it first. Or mail it back to Dell and tell them what they can do with it. I did fill out the online form for problem resolution. Maybe I'll get somewhere with that. In the meantime my big computer was getting a message about the hard drive going bad. I filled out the form and they're sending me a new hard drive. Since it too is a Dell and less than a year old, I'm not too happy with them. 

I hate talking on the phone. By the time I was done talking with the "service" people, I was about as frustrated as a cardiac patient needs to be, so I had a bite of lunch and then headed to the shop. Did some cleaning and putzin' around, including sharpening some drill bits. Good therapy there. As was going to the gym working the heavy bag and the mitts last evening. Still waiting for the well guy to show up also. Be nice if service economy actually offered some decent service. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bicycle Rack

Bike rack modified, painted and ready to install.

Finished product. You have to look close to even tell that it's in there but there's nothing wrong with that. My touring bike won't fit on the rack with the pannier racks on the fork, so I need to get the "racing" bike out if I'm going to be taking the bikes anywhere like I did the other day. Wouldn't hurt to ride that one a bit anyway. I might enter that bike race I've done a couple of times in the past again this year. I should be in pretty good shape after the Cowboy Trail and I'll have a few weeks to do some "speed" work. The race is eight or nine miles in  length. It'd be nice if I could do about a 19 mph pace. A few years ago I averaged about 21. Two years ago I started out at about 19 but faded about a mile from the end. If I had remembered the course better and knew I was that close to the end I could have pushed myself a bit more but it wouldn't have made any difference in the placings. Mostly it's like the 5Ks I do - a reason to exercise, have some fun and add to the Tee shirt collection.

Anyway, the bike rack is finished and it's on to other things. I need to do a bit of cleaning out in the shop first. Get everything tidied up and then tackle the 900, make a couple of little things on the Sprint project and start making some sidecovers for the BSA.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

New Truck

Goodbye Veloster, hello F150. I'm going to miss the little car. It was a fun little thing to drive.

I picked up the new truck yesterday. Think it'll be something I can live with for a while. In fact, might be the last new four wheeled vehicle I ever buy. I got 15 years out of the old Dodge. If I get 15 years out of this one, I'll be in my eighties if I live that long.

I loaded up my saddle pal and our bikes in the back of it and went a couple of towns over to ride the trail as my first outing. It sure rides and drives a lot nicer than the Dodge. The new one is a 2016 but it only had 4400 miles on it when I got it. The dealer said an old guy bought it but then found out his wife couldn't get in it with her bad hip, so he traded it in on something that sat lower. I'm going to have a similar problem with the Missus, so I need to get a step or some running boards to make it easier for her to get in and out as well. Seems like most of our trips together are trips to medical facilities and we always take her car anyway. I did a little online search and found some tubular chrome running boards that should do the trick and will dress the truck up at the same time.

I modified the bike rack that was in the Dodge to fit the Ford already. I need to take it back out, clean it up and then prime and paint it. I'll get that done in the next couple of days and then I'll be about set. The new rig doesn't have the provision for satellite radio. I'll have to see what I want to do about that - cancel the service or get a plug in tuner for it. I like the satellite radio both for the selection of music that's available but also because it's commercial free. Actually that's probably the biggest part of it. I did figure out how to program the presets on the radio already so I've got the radio dialed in at least.

I'll get the bike rack finished up and then back on the other projects.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Wheels

I bought a new rig - wasn't an XKE - but rather a Ford pickup. My old Dodge pickup is in need of some serious work or a new home. I chose the latter. I traded in the Veloster on the truck. Had mixed feelings about that. I really liked that little car and they're coming out with an even sportier version but getting a newer truck and getting rid of the car and the old pickup is really the best plan. License plates, taxes and insurance costs add up pretty quick, plus I buy plates for a couple of trailers and a motorcycle. And in Indiana, you never stop paying excise taxes on your vehicles. It goes down every year until you hit the minimum but it never goes away. And you have to pay the sales tax on your original purchase. Taxes - curse of the working man.

I'll post a couple of photos of the new rig after I pick it up tomorrow.

I checked with the bike shop about the sidecar tire. Seems that size is a little hard to come by. He's going to cancel the order and get me a similar size that's more common. Other than cutting the windscreen for the strut clearance, I've got everything else done on it. I'll be starting on the bike itself now. There's not a whole lot to finish up but I'm sure it'll take me twice as long as it should. I've been spending quite a bit of time on the bicycle training for the Nebraska trip, which doesn't help getting the projects completed, but I'm looking forward to the bike trip.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mr Anachronism

A few items gleaned from the news of late:

Secretary of Defense Mattis says that 70% of those in the age group 18 - 24 are unfit for military service due to obesity, drug use - either licit or illicit - education or something else. While the 70% number is a shocker, if you've been a classroom teacher lately, you wouldn't find that all that surprising. God forbid if something happens that we need to count on our young people, hopefully they'll rise to the occasion.

Maybe not though. I also came across a little ditty about Portland, Oregon. Seems now that smoking weed is legal, they're having a hard time filling job openings because people can't pass the drug test. Now there's a big surprise.

From the Wall Street Journal last week an article about student loans. Says there are now over 100 people who have student loan debt of over $1,000,000. Yep, over one million dollars in student loans. The one example cited was accruing $130 per day in interest debt.

As part of my Alaska trip I'll be riding on the Alaska Railroad. Seems there are no cash transactions on the train. If you wish to buy something in the café or dining car it must be purchased with a credit/debit card. As much as I dislike the idea, it won't be long and it'll be that way everywhere. With my borderline? paranoia, I just don't like the idea of every purchase I make being recorded. Plus, how many people have gotten into big trouble with credit card debt? If you don't have the cash in your pocket for a purchase, hard to get in trouble by over extending. Of course, it is possible to get in real debt with borrowing. Just see the example above.

I developed a roll of film earlier today. That'll be another thing of the past real soon. For the most part it is already I guess. I saw where Canon no longer makes a film camera. Everything is digital and I understand the why of it. Makes perfect sense. However, I still like the mystery of taking the shot and developing the film to see how the negatives came out and the later magic in the darkroom when your image appears in the tray. Plus, altering a print in the darkroom is a much different process than altering digital images and I prefer the former to the latter. I'm not a total Luddite, mind you. This is the guy that just finished taking a multi-axis CNC machining course. Just a different skill set but also a reminder that it's never a bad idea to have some old school skills as a back up.

I'm not quite ready for the aluminum foil protective beanie yet, but I see some potentially dark days on the horizon. I've witnessed a few "digital" failures already. Most were no more than an annoyance but as we become more dependent upon the technology, the opportunity for major disasters grows. I'm not losing any sleep over these things but by looking at the big picture it's pretty obvious that young people not fit enough for the military, huge debt loads, no cash reserves or way to spend cash, and total dependency on technology could cause the perfect storm shutting down the whole country with a lot of people dying as a result. Not a pleasant thought, certainly, but one worth considering. At least in my case I'll be able to make a photographic record of the end of the world as we know it.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Portraits & Road Junk

One more Merle Oberon. Three different photos, three different looks. I like looking at these to see if I can figure out how they were lit. This one is a little tougher than the other two because it's hard to see her eyes. Obviously there was an overhead light in front and to the left - maybe two looking at how bright her left arm is and the lack of shadow on the background. The lack of a background shadow could've been the result of a background light as well. Probably two lights on her face judging by the lack of shadows under the nose. While I prefer both of the previous photos I've posted to this one, this is a great photograph just the same. Most of these were taken with an 8x10 view camera with retouching on both the negative and on the print if called for. Truly an art form from start to finish.

No art on this one. Just one more item I've found over the years while out running or cycling. I started running in earnest in 1976 when I was boxing and my coach told me we should enter the 10.5 mile run the town was planning as part of the bi-centennial celebration they were having. I've been running, racewalking or cycling ever since. I've covered a lot of both town and country miles and I've seen all kinds of flotsam and jetsam while out on the roads. Liquor bottles and beer cans of course, pornographic books and tapes, cassette tapes with about fifty feet of the guts unspooled, road kill, tools, car parts, trucker bombs, and I even picked up a Richard Petty Matchbox car while on my bike trip out west a few years back. About the only thing I haven't come across is money. I've found the occasional nickel, dime or penny, but never any real money. Probably the greatest value I've gotten has been the health benefit and the time spent with my running buddies and saddle pals.

Looks like the ninety degree temps are gone for a while. That'll make the cycling a bit more enjoyable. However, I'm sure it'll be hot in Nebraska when we're out there, so I need to get out in the heat a bit to get acclimated. I should have the sidecar finished this upcoming week and, hopefully, have a good start on getting the bike itself finished. Be nice if the well guy showed up too.