Monday, May 31, 2010

Darby's Rangers

The film Darby's Rangers was on TCM Sunday morning. I don't recall ever seeing that movie before and it's a pretty good war film. James Garner stars as William Darby, the man who started the Army Rangers. In the film he addresses a new lieutenant and explains the mission of the Rangers and that "they should be treated the same as a master craftsman, with honor and dignity". That's quite the compliment to craftsmen and shows the place they once held in society. Coming from a man like Darby, that's really something. On this Memorial Day weekend, the honor, of course, goes to Darby, the Rangers and all the other men and women who've given so much so that we can enjoy our "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

Memorial Day grew from Decoration Day. Decoration Day started shortly after the Civil War as a way to honor the fallen soldiers by decorating their graves. Memorial Day was made an official holiday in 1971 and in 2000 Congress enacted the National Moment of Remembrance. Wherever you are today at three o'clock local time please pause for a minute to remember those who have given their lives and perhaps decorate the grave of a serviceman or woman today as well.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cage Rage

I went to see the Cage Rage fight last night with Coaches Jimmy and Mike from the gym. There were a few fighters on the card that had trained at our gym. They all fought well and won but I'll still take amateur boxing over that MMA stuff. There were some tough guys in there, I'll say that for them. Just not exactly my cup of tea.

This is only the second show of this type that I've been to and both have been run by the same group. Neither show started on time and it took forever to run through the program. Since these shows were about three or four years apart, you would've thought they would have the bugs worked out by now. Apparently the predominately young crowd of tattooed fans didn't mind too much. They seemed to be content with drinking light beer, smoking cigarettes and checking their phones every twenty seconds.

Congratulations to all the fighters, especially Billy and Todd on your performances last night. I know you guys trained real hard for this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Skull Camera

Photos found here

Who thinks of this stuff?

Fantastic craftsmanship. Looks to be a 4x5. Not sure about the lens or the shutter but it's pretty cool in a twisted Steampunk kind of way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Working Again

I started hitting a few licks on the Rickati again. Worked a little on the gas tank and the exhaust pipe. We've had a schedule change this week and it's kind of screwed things up a little but it won't be long and this year will be in the books. We've got a full week next week and three days after Memorial Day to administer finals and then it's a wrap. I'll be glad when this one is over. Things are not going smoothly at either the building or corporation level and my tolerance level for stupid crap has plunged to an all time career low. There is some sunshine on the horizon, however, and now that I'm starting to build things again, I'm feeling better. I just need my tooth to start co-operating and I'll be back in the pink.

I was going to add some more photos of the Rickati build on the Flickr site but I couldn't remember my log-in info. I did want to keep that updated. It's a shame that I can be so scatterbrained at times. I think it's either I've been around high school kids for so many years or I just don't give a hoot any more about a lot of things. Maybe a combination of the two. Regardless, the weatherman says sunshine and warm temperatures are on the way. I can get out on the bike, do some running and get some work done around the shack. Spring is here and summers right behind it. The annual renewal cycle that we all so desperately need. Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bike to Work Week

Photo from here

Don't forget it's bike to work week and Friday is bike to work day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seven Trip Tooth

Once upon a time I had a bad tooth and I went to the dentist. He ground the tooth off and put a temporary crown on it.

I went back and had the new crown installed.

I went back a couple of weeks later because I had some pain and I figured there was a high spot. They touched up a spot but didn't really see a lot.

I went back when the real cause of the pain manifested itself in a lump the size of a walnut on the roof of my mouth. They gave me some antibiotics and sent me home.

I went back after allowing the antibiotics to kick in and they started a root canal procedure. There was still too much infection to tackle the whole operation.

I went back to get phase two of the root canal done today. After drilling and filing and Lord only knows what else, he put a temporary filling in just in case it's not completely cured yet.

I go back in a couple of weeks and get the temporary filling replaced with a permanent one.

Just a good thing I've got insurance and sick days. In fact, I'm really starting to enjoy taking a day off every week. To paraphrase Ernie Banks: Its a great week for a sick day. Lets take two.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Open House and Run

Sounds like some kind of directions you might give to someone with a tiger in their house: "Open house and run".

Saturday I attended the Urschel Laboratories, Inc. 100th anniversary open house courtesy of Surly. Very impressive, I must say. First of all, for a privately owned company that's being run by the third and fourth generation and is still in business has to be very rare in this day and age. Usually, it seems that the next generation either gets ahold of the company and runs it into the ground or sells the whole show to some conglomerate and lives like a king until they squander all the money. I had been inside the company on a previous occasion and due to the nature of the work (they make slicing and dicing equipment for food products, primarily), it was very clean. It was spotless on Saturday with everything freshly painted. They make most everything in house having their own foundry, machining and welding facilities. It was obvious that the owners are proud of the business and they value their employees highly. It was also very obvious the employees were justifiably proud of what they do for the company. Thanks for the tour and continued success.

I ran the Hub Run today. I "blistered" the first mile in 9:45 but that includes shuffling in the crowd to get to the starting gate. I finished with a 9:54 pace that included a little race walking along the way. I was looking for about 30 minutes and only missed my mark by about 30 seconds. Not bad for not training. My back was hurting a little and my legs felt a little wooden but my cardio is pretty good. Beautiful day for a race and there was a huge crowd by Hub Run standards. Over 1000 runners and a bunch of walkers as well. My only complaint is that someone needs to tell some of the younger runners about running etiquette - things like start towards the back unless your a fast runner and don't just stop on the course without checking behind you first. I about ran over a couple of the little shavers who went out like gang busters and 3/4 of a mile later they just stopped in the middle of the road. It's good that they're out there though. They just need a couple of pointers, that's all.

Finished up the weekend by going to the grandson's birthday party. Nice way to cap off the weekend. Back to the dentist tomorrow to finish the root canal. Always something to look forward to there.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Back to Work

I was finally able to pull the rag out and get back to work on a few project things. The shiny brass gizmo is a balance weight for an old clock the Media Guy at school bought. It was missing one so I turned this one out on the lathe at school. I still need to figure out the gearing problem on the lathe and something's a little hinky with the thread chasing dial as well but having a lathe in the shop is pretty sweet.

The aluminum box is going to be a live well for a boat. The kid laid it all out, bent and TIG welded it all on his own. He was proud as a peacock when it was leakproof the first time out, plus he managed to pick up the aluminum sheet at a yard sale for only five bucks.

The grill is for a Ford Ranger. This one was done by the same kid who made the bicycle I posted some photos of awhile back. This boy's got some talent. He's signed up to attend WyoTech to learn how to make hot rods and customs. If he stays on the straight and narrow, he'll be a great one. He's got tremendous artistic skills and the ideas just flow out of him. The only problem here at school is, he just wants to work on what he finds interesting. We're all a little bit that way but it's hard to build your skills up unless you tackle a variety of projects.

I started machining up the piece I need for the Rickati swingarm on the lathe at home. I got the heavy wall tubing from another job I scrapped out, so I needed to turn the OD to clean it up and thin it out a little. I've got lathe jobs working in not one but two locations now! I'm going to be pretty busy this weekend but I want to get this piece done. If I can get the swingarm finished up, the frame is pretty well complete. I need to order some tubing for the swingarm "legs" and machine up the plates with the axle slots but that's no big deal. I can then get a back wheel underneath it and hook up the rear brake. Even if it doesn't run, I can always find a hill to ride it down.

I'm "running" the Hub Run on Sunday. I haven't been training at all but I can always limp through a 5K. I've been trying to get miles on the bike in any free time I have but the weather has been crap. I don't mind getting a little wet but getting soaked on the way to work is no good. I did put some time in on the trainer the other night, so you know I'm getting desperate. My legs held up pretty well to a half hour of fairly strenuous work. I was sweating like a pig but the heart rate was staying nice and low. I should be able to start putting in some longer rides in the next couple of weeks. I need to get a few 20-25 milers in and I need to hook the trailer up to make sure that it's ready to go as well. I've got a little better rear wheel for it that was left over from one of the high mileage cars. I'm going to throw that one on there and I might to have to do a little modifying on the hook up part to compensate for the wider rear wheel I put on the bike. I also need to order up some food and in a couple of weeks start sleeping on the floor. It makes it easier to sleep on the ground if you condition yourself by laying on a self-inflating mattress on the floor instead of a nice cushy bed for a few days. The Missus always thinks I'm crazy but I can't take the Lay-Z-Boy with me, which is fast becoming my primary sleeping arrangement here at the shack.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Electric Motorcycle - Book Review

I bought the book Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel the other day. The link takes you to Amazon but I bought mine from Edward Hamilton, Bookseller (both places have about the same price but I'm a big fan of Edward Hamilton).

The book is a how-to on converting a regular motorcycle to electric power. The first couple of chapters deal with the energy issues we're currently facing in this country and answers many of the questions that are always brought up about electric powered vehicles such as limited range, emissions and cost of operation. One of the points the author makes is that electric generating facilities are always running whether they need the power or not. You don't fire up a coal fired generating station every time someone turns on the lights. The power plants increase output upon demand but according to Mr. Vogel, you could probably add almost a million electric motorcycles just on the electricity that is normally wasted. That's a pretty good economic argument for switching your scooter to electric power and when I say scooter I mean any size bike. The Electra Cruiser he built is a prime example of a big bike capable of 80 miles per hour. His website deals primarily with bio-diesel but does have a short blurb about the bike.

Chapters 5 & 6 deal with frame geometry, suspension and frame design. Even if you were to build a motorcycle with a gas or diesel engine, the explanations of rake, trail, suspension, and frame design would be worth the price of the book. As a guy who has built or modified quite a few bikes over the years, this is pretty solid information that is not easily accessible or normally, easily understood.

I haven't read the rest of the book yet, but skimming threw it, the remaining chapters deal with component selection, wiring and the actual building process. There is also a list in the back of the book of suppliers, including complete kits to make the conversion. Everything a handy fellow like myself would need to build an electric bike. A builder would either have to be a welder/machinist or have easy (cheap) access to one to keep the cost in check but this is the wave of the future right here folks. You could build a rig like this and ride it to work, sneak an extension cord out the back, recharge during your shift and then scurry on home with almost no mechanical noise whatsoever and have your employer pay for half of your commuting cost. Plug it in again when you get home and your set to go for the next morning for just pennies a day. No oil changes, valve adjustments or trips to the gas station. Just top off the fluid in the battery occasionally and check the chain and tires once in a while.

So far a real good read. I give it a thumbs up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good Trick

Joey Chitwood's got nothing on these guys. I found this at: motorcycho.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Over the Rainbow

Had some crappy weather yesterday but the sun popped out late in the day and lit up the elevator and the front corn field nicely. Rainbows are always a nice touch as well. I used the dusk/dawn setting for this shot. I took one with the normal auto setting but the grain elevator was washed out.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Mother's Day. My mom has been gone a few years now but the memories still linger. I had a lovely day spending some time with the grand kids who came down to see Grandma on her day. I took them both for a short spin on the tractor and fooled around outside a little enjoying the weather. After they went home I put a new tube in the bike, to replace the new tube in the bike, and went for a 10 miler. Beautiful late afternoon ride. I even got a chance to use the pepper spray for the first time this season. I'm planning on running past the same house in the morning, I'll be sure to bring the spray along then too. Taking the day off tomorrow so I can get a root canal. The way things have been at work lately, even a root canal will be an improvement. I'm going to try and get going on the projects this week. Carping about work isn't going to get anything accomplished.

Need to get the garden in - hope the weather stays decent. Had a frost alert last night and it's supposed to get down into the thirties again tonight. Crazy weather but the frost free day around here is actually May 15th. I need to get some peppers and tomatoes going. I could see little peaches on the tree this morning while mowing, so that's a good sign.

Get outside and enjoy it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I couldn't take it anymore - I had to start working again. I don't know how those high school kids do it. Welded up a couple of jobs for other people including an aluminum turtle pond, that's a career first. We got the shop all cleaned up and now they are replacing the heater in the shop so things came to a halt this morning. I'm going to start back up on the Rickati project and try to get a little forward motion there. I'm not sure what and when all the heater replacement will involve, so I'll just try and keep the students amused and out of the way until the job is done.

I did have to move the Volkswagen to allow access to the heater. Coincidentally, a former student stopped by during open shop the other night and said it has been gathering dust since 2002. Maybe I should start working on that one a little bit. I did stare at it a little this morning. It's been long enough since I've worked on it, it would be like a new project and I'm always interested in starting new projects. I'll probably get over that urge soon enough, though.

I got an e-mail today from one of the big cheeses at IMSTEA about a link to photos taken at the high mileage tech inspection. Lots of photos here. The Honorable Senator Lugar is in quite a few of them but I guess that's to be expected. It's nice that he was concerned enough about what we do to put in an appearance. Too bad the same can't be said about the assistant principal.

We had a faculty meeting this morning. Once again it was made obvious to me that other people are just better human beings than I am. The one teacher that is being riffed received a little chicken-shit, touchy-feely award that they started handing out this year. The presenter turned it into something meaningful and the recipient accepted the award on the behalf of all those losing their jobs and spoke with a dignity and sincerity that was quite touching. I was very impressed with both ladies.

I was less impressed with the boss asking for volunteers to be club sponsors. The way I look at it, to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, you've got a lot of damn gall asking people to volunteer to take on additional work and responsibilities when you've laid off all the phys-ed and art teachers in the whole corporation and want everyone else to take an unnecessary 4% pay reduction. As far as I'm concerned, everyone should retire from all extra duties until management comes to their senses. Maybe then they would appreciate the things teachers do if there weren't any chaperons for prom or club sponsors or athletic coaches either, for that matter, even if those are paid positions. The coaches damn sure don't make money commensurate with their responsibilities and the hours they put in. See what I mean? Others are just better human beings than I am.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gone to Seed

I planned on writing a post at least twice a week when I started this blog. For the most part I've been able to keep that up but after finishing up the high mileage car and cleaning up the shop this week, I haven't felt like doing a darn thing. I mean, I've got the usual crap to contend with - student gets thrown out of school a month before graduation for breaking into lockers and using drugs, plus a former student and boxer of mine got his name in the police blotter of the local paper - that kind of thing, but other than paper work and a couple of little things, I didn't work on a damn thing this week. Felt pretty good, too. Unlike a lot of high school kids, though, I won't be able to maintain the pace. I'll have to go back to working.

PS. I did get the final write-up on the high mileage contest done. Click on the link and check it out.