Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby Tee Slot Nuts & All Things STB Part ll

A fine young man (hope to see you Sat., Dave) donated a display/bulletin board cabinet to the gym. The only problem was the fact that it was locked with no key, and there were no provisions for hanging it up. I took the thing apart, removed the old locks and fortunately, we had some locks at school left over from our old drafting desks that I was able to make work. Problem number one solved. The cabinet is made from aluminum extrusions that are shaped like a Tee slot on a milling machine or drill press table so I made up a couple of small Tee slot nuts that fit the slot, drilled and tapped them for a 10-32 screw and then made a couple of straps to screw on to them. The straps have an additional hole to use to mount them on the wall. Problem number two solved. Nothing hard here, just a little time spent fabricating and scrounging.

I still can't pull anything large into the shop at school due to some material stored in there and they still need room to bring in the man lift so they can finish hooking up the new heating system and a few other things. It's a good time to get a few little jobs done around the shack and to make my grandiose plans of what I want to accomplish this year, both at home and at school. Whatever I come up with, probably only a third of it will get done but at least it's a plan. A couple of jobs for the school have already come in the door and I've got one left over from last year that I'd planned to finish over the summer that I couldn't get to. Couldn't get to, meaning I couldn't even see it, let alone work on it. But this too shall pass.

Looks like it's going to be a busy fall. I've got several weekenders planned for September and October already and with a little luck, maybe a trip to South America. I've got projects galore to work on and with all the unresolved monkey business at school, I'm just planning on flying under the radar and hitting the projects hard.

I added another link to the sidebar - Diary of a Wimpy Dad. This is a former neighbor and a real good pal of my son. Check him out.

Last but not least, I received a very nice e-mail from the Museum of Science and Industry thanking me for entering the contest. They're even going to send me some free passes. That's a class act and one that I greatly appreciate. They put together a thank you video that shows a photo of all the applicants. So if you were the Zen Master of technology, you could pick my picture out of the display of 1500 applicants. I'm thinking I'll take the family to the museum this fall using my free passes and see it for myself. There are also some of the videos the applicants sent in available for your viewing pleasure as well. It would have been a real tough job to choose just the semi-finalists. Lots of interesting and talented people out there - a sky diving instructor, a guy who rode his bicycle around the world, and my favorite, of the few that I looked at, an elementary school teacher who was Teacher of the Year. I was in the running for the same thing on the county level a couple of years ago. I got beat by the gray haired elementary teacher on that one too. I couldn't have been happier for her, though. There is no paid position in this country more important than a good elementary school teacher.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Update on All Things STB

Well, the phone didn't ring with the call from the Museum, so Shop Teacher Bob won't be spending a month away from home. I might be taking a trip to Rio, however. Jimmy has signed to fight in Brazil on October 16th and I don't know how many tickets they are going to send him. If they send three, I'm in. If they don't, I'm going to see what we can come up with so I can help work his corner. This is the shot he's been waiting for his whole life and I'd really like to be there for it. Plus, who wouldn't want to go to Rio?

Just for fun we decided to make it a parallelogram instead of a rectangle

The barn project has been progressing right smartly. It looks like the Building Trades boys will be building another house as well as my barn, so they'll be working on getting that one closed in before winter and working on finishing mine as time allows. That's fine with me. I'll be getting my doors and such collected up and I can fix the spiral stair as soon as we come up with the finished floor height.

I bailed out of my marathon training due to some strange malady I incurred. When I came down sick, I kind of seized up when out running. After getting over the illness, I seized up again when I resumed my training. I've been thoroughly checked out by the doctor and I think it's some kind of pulled muscles/pinched nerve in my chest and back that just won't cooperate with my running or just about anything else, for that matter. It's rather strange and a real aggravation. I haven't been running or cycling for about two weeks and things are better but not 100%. I guess you have to expect a few bumps in the road when you're a couple of weeks away from 60.

Boring a piece for the Rickati swingarm

The weather's been great lately and I'm getting back into the work routine. Open Shop will be starting after Labor Day and project output should be improving soon. I'm going to spend some time doing some machine work on Rickati and gun parts so I've got a pile of things to work on when the weather turns cold. All in all, things are going pretty well, both at home and at school. I did want to spend the night in the submarine, though.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Click to make bigger

As mentioned in a previous post, I want to start working on my photography a little bit more this fall, specifically more black and white with my big cameras. I've come to like taking photos at night and have had some success. It presents some unique problems - the mosquitoes in the summer, stray light sources from cars passing by and difficulty determining the correct exposure time - but the rewards are great.

Great black and white photos are determined by three things, to put it in extremely simple terms: composition, recording all the detail on the negative and then printing the photograph. Composition is often what makes the difference between a great photograph and just a snapshot. Some of it is as simple as making sure the telephone pole isn't growing out of the subject's head but usually it's something more, much more, in fact. That's why when you see a picture of a pepper, you think of Edward Weston and not me. This is without a doubt my weakest area. A true artist always seems to see things slightly differently than the average Joe like me.

Recording the detail on the negative often times presents a real challenge and night time photography is one of them. The difference between the lightest and darkest areas of the subject is usually more than the range of the film is able to capture. There are things you can do to over come this and that's one of the reasons I find low light photography interesting. Figuring out what to do when you're making the exposure and when you're developing the film is the real challenge.

Printing the actual photograph is another matter all together. I've become fairly competent in printing my images. I've still got a long way to go but this end of the photography is more of a mechanical process as opposed to the artistic visualization of making the shot in the first place. This is more up my alley and one of the reasons I prefer working in black and white instead of digital. I find darkroom work infinitely more enjoyable than Photoshop.

All of this brings me to the title of the post and the photo. The Missus bought a new scanner/copier/printer and in figuring out how to use the thing I scanned in the photo, thinking that would be a good test of the scanners ability. The photo was taken in Ely, Minnesota across the street from the Ely Grand Lodge. I took it with an old folding camera propped up on the parking lot while swatting lots of mosquitoes. It was somewhat of a challenge to print but because I actually got a good negative to work from, I was able to get a decent photograph. In fact, I would say this is probably my best night time shot. Now that I have a scanner, I'll be able to bring some things into the blog that you might find interesting. You'll have to be the judge of that but that's why they have a comment function.

Monday, August 23, 2010

40th Ave Institute

Check this out. It's a bike put together by the 4oth Ave. Institute of Metallurgical Arts and House of Odd Bicycles. From the website it looks like a place to have some fun, drink a little beer and make cool projects from junk bicycles. My kinda place. Actually, it sounds a lot like my Open Shop nights but without the beer. If you check out the link, make sure you look at the squirrel bike. It's like the old Big Wheels that the little guys used to run up and down the sidewalks back in the 70's. If I didn't already have a barn full of bicycle stuff, I might put one of those together.

However, my next bicycle project is going to be finishing the chopper bike we started at school a few years back as part of a pilot program that fell through. I'm thinking about buying one of those little 2 stroke motor kits and throwing it on there. The bike is about 90% done and the rest would be taken care of by the motor kit anyway. Finishing the bike is one of the priorities for this year's school shop projects. I'm cleaning house and I'll soon have a new barn to park it in. It should get about 75 mpg and be a hoot to ride and when gas gets to be $5.00 / gallon, I can build the still and run it on corn liquor! Or maybe I need to stop reading the Lindsay catalog.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Herman Leonard

I just read in the new Time magazine that Herman Leonard passed away last Saturday. He was without a doubt the greatest photographer of the jazz scene ever. I got a chance to see a collection of his photos a few years ago at the Indianapolis Art Museum and they just blew me away. First of all, the photos were of all the heavy hitters of the jazz scene from the 40's, 50's and 60's - Jack Teagarden, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Billy Holiday - but the photos themselves were absolutely fabulous. Beautiful black and white prints that had to be really tough to take in the smoky, high contrast environment of jazz clubs. These weren't some glitzy posed photos, these were the real deal, capturing the musicians live. I mean live like you could hear the music coming out from the photos. The man was a true artist. You can buy a portfolio of six photos of your favorite images for $5750.00. Unfortunately great art doesn't come cheap or I'd already have a dozen.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Barn

Things are underway for my new barn. The Building Trades class will be building me a new 24' x 32' gambrel roofed barn. It will have two 9' garage doors in the front and a space up top for a woodshop. I won't have access to the woodshop at school after I retire, so I can have a woodshop/he-man woman haters club upstairs to tinker in without making sawdust around my machine tools or down the basement. The Missus will have a place to park her rig and I'll have a place to put the finished motorcycle projects and my bicycles.

The boys have got the hole for the footing about half dug and school's only been in session for three days. I'm taking that as a good omen. This job won't be enough to carry them through the school year and the instructor is looking to line up some more work but he wants to get the concrete work done ASAP. If he gets something else going, he can get that job under roof before the bad weather and finish me up in the spring. Either way, I'll have the new building and things cleaned up around here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of School

Today was the first day of high school for me for the 41st time - four years as a student and 37 as a teacher. Things went about as well as I expected them to go. No phone, no computer and no shop. Actually rather enjoyable. No need to worry about attendance reporting or any interruptions. I think I can sneak out there tomorrow and start getting some things done in the shop. I haven't done much in the way of project work all summer long and I need to scratch the itch. Looks like some good people in my classes, so as long as I stay in my own little world I should be fine this year.

Check out the boxing club site for an update on the festival results this past weekend. The ring I made worked out but needs some additional bracing. I'm going to get going on that as soon as possible. It needs some knee bracing and a truss rod on the back of the corner posts. Nothing too difficult, just needs to get done before it's a rush when we want to use it again.

Night all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby

Gorgeous, ain't she?

It's the Missus' birthday today. The old girl hit the big six -oh!

We started dating in high school and have been married almost 40 years. She's a great wife, a great mother and a grandmother who's great. She's the love of my life and we've been through a lot together - not all of which was my fault.

Happy Birthday

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hot Enough to Cook a Toad

Hot and humid again today. So hot in fact you could cook a toad. The little guy in the top picture managed to get between the storm door and the front door somehow and got trapped. I opened the door this afternoon and there he was, cooked on the aluminum sill plate. As you can see from the thermometer it was plenty hot out there. I did a little work on the big barn this morning patching a hole in the sheet metal where Mademoiselle Farmer put the chute on the combine through the side. I finished up about noon and the sweat was just a pouring off.

Stay hydrated, my friends.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cool Pics

Nice photos from the 40's of a couple of weldors. These look to have been made from a 4x5 judging from the cut marks on the edge of the film - probably a Speed Graphic. Keeping the wheels turning during the war. Click on the photos and blow them up. They're really nice shots.

I haven't done much photography this summer other than digital. I shot a couple of rolls when I went on my trip but I haven't even developed them yet. After school starts I'm going to mix up some fresh chemicals and do some printing. I've got two 4x5 cameras that are a lot of fun to shoot with but it's kind of a pain to develop the film. I need to make a tray or something that makes it easy to develop 4 sheets at a time without having to use a lot of chemistry. I'll put that on the list and see what I can get figured out. Looks like it's going to be awhile before I can use the shop at school, however.

I worked yesterday and today on building a portable boxing ring for Saturday. Looks like it's going to be pretty nice. The club is putting on a show as part of the local festival, so we'll have a little float in the parade and sparring later in the day.

I go back to work Friday and the students start Monday. I'm not looking forward to going back this year but I checked my schedule of classes and things look real good from that standpoint. I've got two vocational classes in the morning and prep right after lunch, then the beginning classes. My ideal schedule and the class sizes are good as well. As long as we can get out in the shop before there's an uprising, both the students and I should be happy campers.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Reviews

"Bazooka Joe" from the boxing club dropped a book off for me to read the other night. It's Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. If you're at all interested in running, I'd get a copy of it. It's the story of a pick-up race between a few of the best American trail runners and a few members of the Tarahumara Indian tribe from Mexico. The race itself is a little anti-climatic with the real meat of the book being all of the events leading up to it. In addition to telling the story of the race and how it came about, the author also weaves in things like the shoeless running movement, how humans developed to become runners, health benefits of running and why people still persist in distance running, especially ultra running, that is, distances longer than the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

It's especially interesting to note that the Tarahumara basically are cancer free as well as never having to worry about a hear attack. They run and play, eat a diet of veggies, fruit, some kind of barbecued mouse, and corn, including corn beer, keep to themselves and do just fine. Really good book, in fact, I stayed up to a little past midnight finishing it up.

I also just read this past week Chasing the White Dog by Max Watman. It's the story of moonshine, both past and present. It chronicles the author's experiments as an amateur moonshiner and many other notables in the business, including stock car legend Junior Johnson. The book is not a how to manual by any means but if you're interested in the production of alcohol from an historical, technical, or sociological stand point I'd check it out.

I'm planning on making some peach cordial as soon as the peaches ripen up just a little more, which is perfectly legal. However, if I were to make peach brandy, that would be a different story all together. If I had a still I'd be able to make applejack, brandy and power my automobile if gas wasn't available. I don't plan on building a still anytime soon, and if I did, even I'm smart enough to know posting it on the Internet would be a bad idea. Apparently just having a working still is against the law - federal law at that. The law might be changing, however. You can produce beer and wine for home consumption and with the number of legit micro-distilleries popping up, people might be able to produce their own liquor with a minimum of red tape sometime in the foreseeable future. I don't need another hobby but I like the idea of working with copper to make some cool looking moonshine rig. I've got a 4'x4' sheet of copper that I've had for a long time and some copper tubing. After meeting with the financial guy the other day, maybe that should be my retirement plan. When I run out of money, I'll build the still, get caught moonshining and let the government put me up for the duration.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Contest Entry

Photo from here:

I got my Month at the Museum entry mailed off. I was a little disappointed with my essay even though I'm usually pretty good at that sort of thing. I never really got into a groove when writing it. They wanted a 5x7 head shot included as well - Surly did a nice job on the photo but if they're looking for a beauty queen, I'm out on that count as well. I'm sure my chances of winning are about as good as winning the lottery but it was a good technical exercise. And as they say - you can't win unless you play.

The bike in the photo was a prize in some contest. I didn't even bother looking into that one. I've got plenty of bicycles and too much grass to mow for a rig like that even if it did work. I do have an old reel mower, however. I could make one up and park it next to the railbike and the recumbent. When my kid has the auction it could be one more thing that sells for two bucks.

I probably should have entered something in the Miller Electric contest. There are three different categories of welding projects and like the museum contest, it ends next week as well. Chances of winning something probably would have been better but it's an annual contest. Maybe I should start thinking about something for next year -like finishing my Rickati project. I was planning on taking care of that this summer but I couldn't get into my shop at school all summer due to construction. I wish they would have told me that ahead of time. I had a bunch of work lined up to do in there.

School starts in a week and the construction isn't finished yet. With the layoffs and retirements and just plain quits, the corporation lost about 14% of it's staff this year. The superintendent is going to unveil his master plan for staffing next Monday. That should be interesting. I'm heading out now to go see my financial guy. I need to work up my escape route.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I was walking past the kitchen window the other morning on my way to get a cup of coffee and I just happened to glance out to see a flock of turkeys out by the barn. I had heard them out that way before but this is the first time they came out of the corn where I could actually see them. I'm not sure if the law on hunting them is the same as it used to be but at one time you could only hunt them south of Route 10 and I live about 1/2 mile north. I prefer the Butterball with the little pop up timer built in anyway.

I got my DVD for the Month at the Museum contest done last night. I had all my pictures, a story board and the actual script all set before I got to Jeff's house so it went pretty quick. He imported the photos and I did the voice-over in one take. He adjusted the screen time for the individual photos to match up with the vocal and merged everything together real cleanly. He got the time right at 60 seconds. Not the greatest production. I know Jeff could have spiffed things up a bit with a little more time but I'm pleased with the outcome. I'm finishing up the essay and then I fill out the application. I've looked that over already, should be no problem on filling that out. I've still got a week - not even close to a panic yet.