Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weekend in Review

# 765 Coming into LaCrosse

Old Dude sportin' the Minnie Pearl look

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain


Myself, Cuzzin Ricky and his granddaughters rode the steam train Saturday afternoon. The weather wasn't the best to be out walking around and taking photographs but man what an impressive piece of machinery that engine is. It's great there are still some live steamers left and people can see, hear and smell the way things used to be. The train will be running twice more this summer at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, June 18 & 19, July 2. Take the kids, take the grandkids, take yourself, but ride the train.

Update: After I wrote the post the Missus received a message that the train derailed on Sunday. We were on the last ride out on Saturday and were sitting in the very same car that's in the picture right by the sign in the window. You can read more about it here. Thanks Becky for your concern.

Rick and I did the annual dead relative tour on Sunday morning. We got all the flowers planted, had a nice breakfast, and I made it home in time to watch the last half of the Indy 500. I had to listen to part of it on the radio due to the weather. The sirens went off and the Missus and I headed down the basement again. I did refine things last week a little to increase both the comfort and the safety level. I've still got some work to do but after seeing the damage in Alabama and Missouri, making some emergency preparations will be time well spent.

Spent Monday doing chores around the shack, mowing, planting a couple more hazelnuts, etc. Since we went from heating to air conditioning season almost overnight, I needed to get the covers off the AC units and get them operational. Lots more to do but will have the time soon. The work schedule for the summer will probably be something like yesterday. Get up and get the chores done by noon. Stay out of the mid-day heat and then go back out for another go-round about 7:00. I need a screen door in my shop for working in the evening. The skeeters are really mean after all the rain we've had. A half day spent making a screen would make things much more pleasant and might get me off my ass to get a little more done in the shop.

Only today and tomorrow for final exams and then a couple days of Mickey Mouse crap and school will be out for the summer. A couple more years and I can call it a career. If the blog lasts that long I might have to add "retired" after Shop Teacher Bob, or squeeze in emeritus in the title - Shop Teacher Emeritus Bob. We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it. I'm already practicing my mantra for next year: "Just one more after this one". Man, I'm going to be hard to live with.

Hope you all had a good Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wrappin' It Up

Perfect Attendance

Frame Repair

Jon Boat

Turbo Intake

We've been putting the finishing touches on the school year. We started final exams yesterday and will finish up on Tuesday and Wednesday. These are always long days due to the schedule. The students take a couple of finals per day and then have a lot of time to kill between tests. I'm not sure why we do it the way we do but I try to work right up to the last minute. Usually I get help working to the last minute and this year was no exception.

A former student brought in the aluminum pipe for his car's turbo during Open Shop on Tuesday and I welded that for him. He also has a big 2 into 1 stainless pipe for the exhaust that I tacked one flange on. He was going to check the fit and then bring it back and have me finish weld it for him.

A current student brought in an aluminum Jon boat for me to fix up. It had the normal cracks and missing/loose rivets they normally do. I got it welded up and he put some new rivets in it. I bought a bag of rivets a couple of years ago and I normally get at least one boat repair of this type per year. The welding's a little tricky because the leaks are typically on the "vee" shaped ribs that have been worn down by dragging the boat on the shore. By the time they start leaking, the aluminum is paper thin along the crack and is corroded pretty good as well. As soon as you strike an arc the crack becomes a hole and the junk that was in the crack prevents the puddle from flowing together. A steady hand and some patience usually will prevail, however. If you're a TIG welder, you'll notice in the photo that my hand wasn't completely steady. Any time you see a black spot, that indicates that the tungsten electrode touched the base metal. Oops.

Another student brought his truck in for some frame repair. The frame was cracked where the steering box mounts up. He did all the work himself. I merely acted as a technical advisor. He was having a little trouble welding a little of it with the stick welder so I volunteered to crawl under there but the kid said no. He was going to clean it up a bit and try the MIG because he wanted to do it all himself. It's guys like him that keep me coming back after all these years. He's a nice young man who will be graduating soon. He's got a job lined up already with a fairly good starting wage and a benefit package. I was surprised when he said he wasn't going to be pursuing any higher education, he's certainly capable of it. He'll do fine at whatever he tackles.

The top photo shows one of my boys modeling his new welding jacket he received for having perfect attendance. I give my vocational students a welding helmet or jacket if they have perfect attendance for the year. I give them one day in the last nine weeks, most of the students take the Monday after the prom off. I've been doing this for about 25 years and the most I've ever had was four in one year but I usually get at least one.

So we're done welding for the year and the shop is pretty well cleaned up. I told the department head that I'll teach the woodshop class next year. I signed up for a spindle turning class in a few weeks so I can have at least a little bit of experience with the wood lathe prior to teaching it. I'm a pretty fair hand with the metal lathe but I'm a stone rookie on the wood lathe. I've fixed a bunch of the lathes in the woodshop but never operated them much. That was my only real fear about taking on the class, so this should help my confidence level a lot.

Of course it's Memorial Day weekend so please remember those that have served and given their lives that we can live ours in freedom. Looks like the weather around here is going to be a little shaky but I'm planning on getting out and riding the steam train and hitting the cemeteries.

Be safe.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Editorial

Courtesy of Kevin from the Lafayette Journal Courier:
Congratulations, future pre-K-12 teachers. The vast amounts of time (minimum four years of college), money (and likely debt) and effort you've put into becoming an educator to make a positive impact on the lives of your students will soon be rewarded. Here's what lies ahead for the foreseeable future, especially if you teach at public schools in Indiana, whose elected leaders seem intent on dismantling public education one piece at a time:

1. Adults incessantly claim to value education but generally refuse to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to anyone's children other than their own -- and often, even when it is their own. This can lead to working miscellaneous jobs outside of your primary one as a teacher to make ends meet, during summer and/or the school year.

2. Adults don't know or refuse to admit teachers' workdays begin long before the bell rings in the morning, end long after the bell rings in the afternoon, and usually extend into weekends and vacations during the school year. However, they know the school year is nine months long and won't let you forget it -- even if they don't actually want the school year to be extended.

3. Since almost every adult has attended school, education is the subject most likely to be the one of which he/she claims to know well. Many will think they can do your job at least as well as you can. Never mind that being a good teacher requires a combination of intelligence and people skills that public education's biggest critics usually lack -- they attended school and therefore know what works best.

4. Get used to calls for higher standards from those who ask far more from you than they would even consider asking from themselves. These often come from sources with deep pockets, omnipresent media outlets and vested interests in producing students who are more likely to do as they're told than they are to question authority. Student standardized tests can serve as valuable diagnostic tools, but they're not designed to develop creativity, collaboration or critical thinking skills. Given the overemphasis placed on test scores, we know where the "reformers' " priorities lie.

5. A widespread but absurd, pernicious belief that schools should be run like businesses, even though schools deal with human beings -- and kids, at that -- whereas most businesses deal with objects. Ray Kroc, the person most responsible for building McDonald's into the global giant it is today, infamously acknowledged that if his competitors were drowning, he'd pour water down their throats. Though he might have been the first person you'd want running your business, he might also have been the last person you'd want teaching your kids.

Despite those obstacles, each of you still can make a difference. Just don't expect it to be easy.

The school corporation is making some personnel changes this year and my department will be affected. To what extent is not exactly certain yet but it looks like Shop Teacher Bob will be teaching a couple of construction or woodshop classes next year. Of course, we don't call the classes by those names anymore. Everything has some kind of systems, processes or tech moniker but woodshop is still woodshop. I've taught construction in the past but never woodshop. With only a couple of years to go, construction class would be the easiest choice but I'd like to improve my woodworking skills and what better way than to teach a class. I might even be able to work in my wooden boat project while I'm in there. It usually takes a few years to iron out the wrinkles in a new program, which means about the time I start to feel comfortable and I've got all the lessons, jigs, fixtures and all the rest figured out, I'll be walking out the door. It also means I'm going to have to put some time in this summer getting ready. I'd like to be more than a day ahead of them when school starts. In spite of the extra work it will require, I'm leaning in that direction. I've got a couple of days to think it over.

We start final exams tomorrow and finish them up on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. It'll be nice to have this year in the books. I'm really looking forward to summer this year. It's been a rough year for public education.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Comin' Together

New Barn

Skid Plate

Cider Press

The boys were working on the barn yesterday. I picked up the patio door for the top on Sunday and it was installed on Monday - can't beat that. You can see it in the photo behind the scaffolding. They also got one of the bay doors stuck in the hole where it belongs as well. We start giving finals on Friday, so time has about run out. If we had about one more week of school they'd have the whole thing closed in. It's going to be a kick-ass building when it's done. You can visualize what it's going to look like when it's finished with the doors in place. Humor me and click on the picture. Looks good, don't you think?

I welded up the skid plate for the Rickati project yesterday. I made it out of an old sign that came with my place. One of the previous owners "collected" signs. They're made out of nice tempered aluminum and are about the right thickness. A little thicker would be better but I don't have a sheet metal break that will bend anything heavier anyway.

The cider press picture I threw in there just because it looks sexy. I need to weld in a pipe coupling and put a valve in the line but that's easily enough done. I got busy with other things over the weekend so I didn't have a chance to look for a stainless coupling.

The weather related news over the weekend was terrible again. More tornadoes and the devastation they bring with them. Down South, up North and some damage real close to home. The Missus and myself spent a little quality time down the basement with the chicks on Sunday. The power was out and according to the scanner a tornado was sighted so we went to the bunker. No damage here but I'm glad I weighted down the sheet metal for the barn before it started blowing. I'm also going to make a couple of changes in the emergency preparedness routine. I'm already pretty well set but if we had the grandkids here when something big hit, I'd like to have the operation a little more streamlined and have a few more supplies. It's going to be one of the first things I do when vacation rolls around. Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

If you've got a couple of bucks to spare, might want to cut a check to the Red Cross or one of the other organizations helping out the tornado victims. Click on the link. It'll take you right there.

Note: This is a repost from the other day due to the pictures disappearing.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Flattracking - You just gotta love it! I've been looking at putting together my summer travel schedule. Nothing big this year, just some short hops. I would like to hit a couple of motorcycle races. I've yet to make it to the Peoria TT even though its relatively close by. It's the only type of motorcycle racing I've never seen. I've been to numerous road races and flat tracks, motocross and trials, Surly and I even caught a speedway race in Daytona that included a unicycle race and a guy blowing himself up in the air with dynamite. So yeah, other than the TT and Bonneville, I've pretty well seen it all. As it happens, Bonneville and Peoria are scheduled about the same time. They have a couple of different meets at Bonneville but I'm thinking Peoria this year. Bonneville will have to wait.

The steam train is back in North Judson next weekend. Need to get over there and do the "Cemetery Tour" both. That'll make for a busy weekend but since school's about out, I'll have plenty of time for things in just a few days. I've already made a list of some of the little items that need to be finished around the shack. I'm going to hit the list hard and get some of those knocked out right away.

I bought a fishing license Saturday morning after hitting the scrap yard and I plan on using it this year. Night crawlers were about three bucks for 20 at Wal-Mart - it's 'bout time I get the worm farm started. I bought a couple of books on vermiculture a couple of years ago. Fish bait and compost for only a small start-up cost and very little maintenance. The place where I bought my chicks can get Worm Chow for me. Not sure that would be necessary but always good to have a ready source of worm food in the pipeline.

I saw this quote Saturday at the Wisdom of the Hands:

"People who make things do not just have superior mechanical skills to lard-arsed incurious tourists flying towards a temporary nirvana bought on credit, they have superior cognitive skills, as well."

That might explain the motorcycle racing and worm farming in the same post. And then again - maybe not.

Since the world didn't come to an end over the weekend, might as well make the most of your second chance. Take my old pal Dobak's advice and save your money. You'll thank me later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cider Operation

We've had the modified block schedule the last few days and I've been tearing things up. I finished up the cider press frame and except for the stainless steel catch pan, it's a done deal. I've got the pan tacked together but I need a stainless pipe coupling to weld in before it's completely done. I'll finish the rest of the welding today and see if I can find a coupling over the weekend. I finished the wiring on the apple grinder also. I just need to make the "apple corral" for around the top of it and it too is a done deal. I might actually be drinking some cider this fall.

Had to do a little maintenance on the paint spray gun. I couldn't get it to adjust down as much as it should, so the cider press has a couple of runs. No biggie on that job but the gun really hasn't worked right since I loaned it to another teacher a few years ago. He sprayed some kind of polyurethane thru it and let it set up. When I got it back, I thought I was just going to have to pitch it and buy a new one but finally managed to get it to spray. Like most things I do, I got it serviceable and figured I'd get around to working on it later. Now that's it's a few years later, that's what I finally did. I spent about 30 minutes taking things apart and running steel wool over the actuator/plunger rods and giving it a good going over. I checked it by running some thinner thru it and it seems to adjust like it was designed. Those Binks Model 7 guns have been around a long time and have sprayed lots of things. I've sprayed a couple of cars, several motorcycles and bicycles, as well as hundreds of fabrications we've put together over the years. Probably more like thousands of fabrications, actually.

Only about seven days left with the little darlings for this year. I need to decide what project to work on in the remaining days. I drug the bicycle chopper out of the back room. I need to decide what to do with that project. I'm still leaning towards buying one of those motor kits and throwing it on there. In the meantime, I'm going to finish up the skid plate for the Rickati project. There's progress being made and that's what counts. I haven't really started anything that I haven't finished this year. Of course, there are still a bunch of half finished projects around but no new ones at least.

It's looking like rain for the weekend but I'm caught up on the mowing at least. If the weather doesn't look too bad for the morning, I might have the boys empty the scrapbox into the back of my truck. Nothing like getting up on Saturday morning and driving to the scrapyard so you can shovel a half ton or so of metal scrap out of the back of the pick-up. It keeps us in grinding wheels and such, however.

Try to get outside a little regardless of the weather. It's been a long winter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Barn Roof

DIY Cider Press

Sheet Metal On
The Roof

The Building Trades boys started putting the sheets on the barn roof yesterday. It was a pretty good day to be outside working. They actually made a pretty good dent in the job. They've got a couple of other things lined up this week to take care of but they should have the roof done in just a couple of more days at the rate their going. That will leave another whole week to hang siding and/or doors. That should put me in pretty good shape to finish up the job during vacation. It's going to be nice. I'll need to get an electrician in here to see what I need for wiring. There was power to the old barn but I need to get a professional opinion on what it'll take to give me a few lights and enough juice to run a couple of woodworking tools. I need to make a collar to slip over the center column of the spiral stairs to tie that in too. No biggie, just need to find a short piece of 3-1/2" pipe and then fab something up.

I got the boys started on the cider press but due to testing this week they won't be back in the shop until Wednesday so I started putting the thing together. Unless something else comes in the door, the metal work should be done by Friday.

I got an e-mail from the DNR about a workshop in Southern Indiana in about a month. I went to a similar one a couple of years ago. They're planning a tour of a state forest, lumber mill and a furniture factory. They have camping at the state forest, so I can hook up the little trailer and head down, spend a couple of nights camping and head home via my brother's place down that way. I haven't taken the little camper out in awhile. The place has both hiking trails and mountain bike trails. Don't know if I'll be able to ride the bike around but I can walk the trails and maybe do a little fishing while I'm there. It'll be nice to do a little communing with Mother Nature.

Have a good week and get outside in the beautiful sunshine.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Weekend to Spend in Bed

Pretty crappy weekend around here. Cold and rainy for the most part. The farmer managed to get my fields planted on Saturday so I'll have soybeans in the front pretty soon. I got the sheet metal for the barn picked up Saturday morning, went to the gym, came home and then vegged out the rest of the day. Other than a few chores, Sunday was basically a repeat. I'm pretty well caught up on my magazines now, though.

Surly sent me a link the other day to Special 79 Fabrications. The guy does some really nice work. I looked back through his blogposts and it looks like we have a lot in common. He's into hockey, Moto Guzzi's, he taught for a while and he makes motorcycle parts. Too bad he's out East, I'd like to meet him and talk a little shop. If you get a little time, check out his work. He's mostly doing handlebars and gas tanks, it looks like, but he also does some artsy, fartsy stuff, and complete bikes. He's got some good how-to videos as well.

I'm officially counting down the days until school's out (12 'til the little darlings leave). In the past when someone would ask me if I was counting the days, I always said there was no point in counting days when your still counting years. This year is different. I'll be glad to get away for a break and maybe I can come back in the fall with a little better attitude. There was a nice editorial in Sunday's NWI Times by Morton Marcus about the role high schools should play in economic development. Only takes a couple of minutes to read it and gives a different slant than what is usually bandied about. He makes an extremely good case.

As soon as the weather clears up a little, I'm heading out to the shop and getting things going out there. I need to do a serious organization/cleaning session. I definitely need to start seeing some progress on the motorcycle front and if I get the place straightened out a little, maybe it'll get done. I'm getting some professional help for a few things around the shack that can't be postponed any longer and I'm still not physically ready to tackle. I can't run but I can work on a motorcycle. I just need to pull the rag out of my ass and get after it. I missed the Hub Run yesterday, by the way. I ran the first one and the 30th anniversary one last year - sorta glad I wasn't out there in the rainy 40 degree temps.

Have a good week - did I mention only 12 more days?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sheet Metal

I'm heading out to pick up the metal for the barn in a little bit. There's two weeks left for the boys to at least get the roof on. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. It's looking like rain out there now, in fact.

Put a couple of guys on the cider press job. I decided to just start from scratch and build a metal one. Since I can use the big screw and bucket, it should be wrapped up next week.

That's all from here.

Traveling Pirate: I saw your comment the other day but Blogger went haywire. The post went away along with the comment and I couldn't log in to respond. So, thanks for the comment and we all need to get together after you get home - talk a little shop and a little trip.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Darkroom

Photo From Here

Busy week already. We fixed the hitch on the drag for the baseball field, an air compressor tank, the frame on a 4 wheeler, and the rear strut tower on a rust bucket little car. I also got the prototype skid plate for the Rickati bent up.

I got caught up on some of my paper work and while working on that came across some new stuff I need to incorporate into my curriculum for next year. I just finished up the "mapping" to reflect the new state performance standards and now I need to include the reading standards. Apparently, since no one else has been able to teach the little darlings how to read over the course of ten to twelve years, it's going to be up to the Tech guys now. I'm thinking maybe they should just run everyone else off and let us do the whole job. If they figure we can do it in a shop environment with the old "hands on" approach, maybe that should actually be the delivery system of choice. Oh wait, that's what everyone who has a grasp on the situation has been saying for years. I did find it odd that I just stumbled across this stuff when someone, somewhere, should have been keeping me abreast of these changes.

There's a new guy at the state level in charge of vocational education and he's been earning his money at least. He put on a Webinar earlier this year to introduce himself and to get to know his people. I received an e-mail from him the other day asking for input from welding teachers to work on the standards during a workshop this summer. I'm going to check up on that and maybe I'll spend a little quality time this summer in Indy giving them my "two cents" worth.

The garden's in, everything else is planted, the chicks are doing well and the barn project is progressing. So in spite of the stupid crap that's happening at school and in education in general, my life is good. Hope that's the case with the rest of you as well.

Just as a little side note, the third year anniversary of Shop Teacher Bob was last week. I've actually been able to keep posting at least twice a week as per my original plan for three years. If you've been reading along for any length of time, you've been able to see the types of things that vocational students do and, hopefully, the importance of these types of classes to the young men and women who enroll in them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jumpin' Jack Flash it's a Gas

Gas Gas.

One of my fellow Tech Ed teachers loaned me his trials bike. I'm not sure why. I think it's because he has the thing and he's not quite sure what to do with it and I'm the only guy he's ever talked to that mentioned trials bikes without being prompted. He can ride a bike fast, he's just not sure what to do about going slow. I rode it around the backyard a little Friday afternoon but I didn't get a chance to do much else with it this weekend. It's got huge fun potential, I can see that but I just didn't get the chance to do much with it this weekend.

I did manage to get in a T-Ball game on Friday evening. While there, Surly and I planned our assault on the moving of heavy things for Saturday. Saturday morning involved picking up a trailer, then loading a lathe and delivering same to Surly's garage. We also moved a woodworking jointer for me from the same place as well as a floor crane and an engine stand. The move came off relatively smooth - not even so much as a pinched finger. Surly commented after we had gotten the lathe in place about all the stuff we have moved. I hadn't really thought about it but between us we have moved about six or seven metal working lathes and a couple of milling machines, several welders and even a garage. I always just kind of do it with out giving it much thought - that is, thought about it being unusual for a guy to get up on Saturday morning and move things that weigh a half ton or more. There usually is plenty of thought given on how to get it done safely and efficiently. I guess "shop guys" just do these things. We got it all done, including picking up a mower and returning the trailer before the rain came in. I guess that good clean living does pay off.

I worked around the shack yesterday. It was a beautiful day to be outside, so I spent the better part of it out. I got the garden in except for a few pepper plants I need to pick up. I put a new belt on the mower and mowed the front yard, planted some trees and shrubs, policed up around the new barn, and took care of a few other odds and ends. Wrapped it all up about six and was both too sore and too tired to ride the trials bike. Damn, it's hell to get old.

It's a beautiful morning as I right this but it looks like rain coming in for the rest of the week. It'll just have to be, I guess. I'm just glad I got my work outside done yesterday. I need to take care of the "peeps" and get to work. Have a good week.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Progress & Peeps

Things have been going pretty good the last few days. The boys have been working on their resumes - that's interesting. For something that should take only an hour or so, they've been struggling. Lots of misspelled words, punctuation errors and basically sloppy work. After several rewrites most of them are at least somewhat presentable, finally. It's no wonder they do poorly on the "Big Test". At least they'll have put one together before they graduate. We do a unit on finding a job - filling out applications, locating employers who use welding, resumes - all the things that should have them ready to go to find a job when they graduate. Unfortunately, many of them don't put much effort into it. Might explain why so many young people can't find a decent job. At least I've done my part.

We finished up the aerator/dethatcher. It came out looking pretty sexy. Should work, too. He can aerate or dethatch, either separately or both at the same time.

The shop's just about bare. We spent the other day cleaning up real well. Looks pretty good in there now. Almost a shame to do any work and drag all the tools out again. I'm going to be working on the big ass log splitter next week and try to finish that up before school's out (He says, very optimistically). The owner hasn't been around at all this year to check on the thing so obviously he's not real worried. It sat at a local welding shop for a year before it came here. He's a nice guy and we've done several jobs for him in the past. He's been pleased with our work but usually we jump on his stuff and knock it out right away. This time he made the mistake of telling me it's a back-up for his other one and he was in no hurry to get it back - which is the last thing you want to tell me. It'll be nice to get it moved out and create a little more room, however.

We've only got three and a half weeks of school left so I'm not sure how much the Building Trades boys will get done on the barn but the trusses are just about all up. They've got the spiral stair where it needs to be, so the next thing is to cut one truss down to give that some clearance and header off the floor to strengthen that up where they have to cut the whole in the floor. As long as they get the roof on the barn, I can work on the rest of it this summer. I've already bought the garage and service doors. I need to get a big door for up on top yet but the job is looking good. The rain has really slowed the progress.

The Missus picked up the chickens late yesterday afternoon. They were a little ahead of schedule but the little darlings are doing swell. They eat, drink, poop, and make noise which actually sounds a lot like my retirement plan. Hopefully I'll be able to get my tomato plants and my trees planted this weekend in between the raindrops and helping Surly move some things.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


From Bookpuddle:

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.

From Steinbeck's East of Eden

That my friends, is why we must read books.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Photography & Reform

That has to be the best photograph of Lauren Bacall ever.

I've been looking at a lot of photos lately. I'm heading into the darkroom one of these days soon to print up some stuff from my Italy trip as well as a few other things I've shot over the last year. Seems like I'm always bouncing from one thing to another, no surprise if you've read this blog for anytime at all, but photography and motorcycles are the ones I always return to. I want to enter a couple of photos in the county fair this year. The black and white stuff was mostly garbage last year. Plus, I'll hopefully end up with a couple of nice photos to hang on the wall. A couple from Italy and a couple of artsy-fartsy ones.

In keeping with my goal to finish some things up, however, I'm not starting on my new pinhole camera for a while. I want to make one that uses the same 4x5 film I use in my big cameras. I'm working on a design but it'll have to simmer a bit. I have been making a little progress around the shack. Put a new battery and new blades on the mower and have kept up with the mowing in between the raindrops and the pumping. I got a little of the garden turned over prior to heading out for opening day of T-Ball season on Sunday. Hope to have that finished up by the weekend so I can start planting. Baby chicks will be here on Friday - looking forward to that. I've got a couple of things to finish up for their nursery. Paint it pink, hang a little mobile overhead - those kind of things.

The governor signed the merit pay bill for teachers, so his reform agenda has been fully implemented. The total package was tamed down some but it's going to be real interesting to see how all of this reform shakes out over the next few years. Real reform would have changed the delivery model. I don't know where the politicians got their information that led them down this path, but I'll be they didn't talk to too many "old school" shop teachers or young teachers who left the classroom within the first five years of their career, as so many do. I do have to admire the nerve of people who have never taught anyone a day in their life deciding what's best for education. Especially when they cut the funding. I haven't yet seen how they are going to reward those of us who don't directly prepare students for the graduation exams or how they are going to compensate those they force to get additional education in order to renew their teaching license. Yep, it's going to be interesting.

The sun's supposed to be out for a few days early in the week. Let's all get outside and work on our melanomas.