Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sparring Partners

Most of them don't look like this. Jimmy's been sparring everyday at 3:30. A local martial arts studio has been bringing guys in. Tough guys but not great boxers. Two of them have come the first two days - they were huffing and puffing pretty good after a couple of rounds but mostly from not relaxing. It's tough getting in with a pro fighter and not knowing what to expect. They were a little more relaxed the second day and the sparring went pretty well. Jimmy's been working pretty hard. He did a ten mile run yesterday morning and the owner of the Bare Knuckle Hall of Fame arranged for a local lady to run with Jimmy on the old rail bed of the Erie. She's a nice gal, pretty too, who's training for a marathon. They're doing a four miler after Jimmy spars today. Jimmy split some wood as part of his training this morning. First time he's ever done that. I had to coach him a little but he got the hang of it pretty quickly and got a couple of blisters to show for his time.

The barns we're staying in are really cool. This was the spot John L. Sullivan trained for the last bare knuckle championship fight and Jimmy is the first guy to train here for over 100 years. No electricity in the barns, so it's early to bed and early to rise. It was raining this morning so I let Jimmy sleep in a little. We did get our walk in right after breakfast, however. I brought an old army style cot with me to sleep on - the thing is probably 40 years old. The canvas ripped this morning when I leaned over to shut the alarm off so I'll be sleeping on the work-out mat this evening. At least I didn't fall through the thing last night. I about froze the first night. It was pretty warm when I went up to bed and as the night cooled off I kept waking up cold, adding another layer off clothing and going back to sleep. I did that about three times before it was time to get up.

We had John L. Sullivan wings last night for dinner at the Belfast Hotel - real tasty. Pretty cool old place and the people here have just been wonderful to all of us. We had a press conference when we got in on Tuesday that was well attended by the local press. A couple of really nice articles in the paper and a radio spot to boot. Other than the rain last night and the little bit this morning, the weather has been great.

I'm typing this up at the local library and the hours are pretty spotty, especially with Jimmy's busy schedule. I'll try and get up another post in a couple of days.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Alternate Power Initiative

I went to the Alternate Power Initiative with my buddy yesterday. If you've been reading here for a while you might recall earlier posts about the Initiative and the steam engine I started constructing. Had I completed it, this would have been the contest. As it was, there were only three real entrants, an air powered tricycle, an air powered car, and a steam car.

The tricycle entrant didn't get too far but farther than his entry last year, which was an air powered go-kart. It wasn't too sophisticated but the guy was having some fun. He came home with a couple of bucks and he'll probably get his picture in the paper again, so how can you beat that?

The little air powered car was a real slick little piece of craftsmanship. It's powered by four air tanks connected to an impact wrench. It went 3.1 miles of the 5 mile course. It was very well finished and you could tell a lot of thought and work went into the construction.

The steam powered car I'm sure went the distance but we didn't stick around for the finish. It complied with the letter of the rules but not really the spirit. It looked like this thing has been around for a while and he just brought it down to compete to make a couple of bucks prize money or, more probably, to show it off and drum up some support for the Steam Automobile Club of America. Nothing wrong with that. If I had a steam car, I would have done the same.

It just so happens that the guy with the title of Event Promoter for the City of Whiting, or something like that, is a guy I know from my old days of working up that way. I had a chance to talk with him for a time and he wants to have the street lined up with cars next year, especially teams from schools. I've got my buddy thinking now, so we'll see what happens. Technically, this wouldn't be starting another project but completing one. After seeing it, it looks like it would be fun and a nice challenge. Definitely need some help in the engineering department, though. I don't have enough "think time" as it is right now.

Friday, August 26, 2011


1964 Rollfast.

The Missus had me get her old bicycle out for her, which I was more than happy to do. I washed it up and put the new handlebars on and she took it out for a little spin. I put some new tires on it and cleaned up the chrome on the wheels this spring, so it's ready to go. She got the bike for her 8th grade graduation, so it's been around awhile, but it's everything a middleweight coaster brake equipped bike should be. It weighs a ton but once moving, rides really nice. I think the Missus is planning on getting a little exercise which I'm glad to see. She's got some health issues that would probably benefit from a little bicycle time on a regular basis but I'm of the opinion that any of us that are going to be sitting on our asses (not just the Missus, mind you), would be a lot better off if there's a bicycle under it when we do. So unless your in the path of the hurricane, get out this weekend and ride that bike.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

School News

I'm already into my second week of the school year and no one's got hurt in the Woodshop. Pretty happy about that. I found a place that sells hardwood and we're getting all our fixtures made up. Pretty happy about that as well. And keeping with the theme, our superintendent quit - you can fill in the rest. He was quoted in the paper as saying: "I'ts so negative here. I don't want to work here anymore". I'm sure a lot of other people feel exactly the same way.

So I'm thinking of throwing my hat in the ring for the superintendent's job. The State of Indiana changed the requirements to be a teacher and a superintendent. To be a teacher, about all you have to do now is take a test for the specific area you want to teach, pass it and you're in. For the superintendents's job, even less is required, if I remember correctly, at least for a couple of years. Normally they give the superintendent a three year contract, so my plan is to get the job, totally screw things up, and they'll buy out the remaining two years of my contract. I get a couple hundred thousand for touring Italy on my Moto Guzzi or sitting around the shack pickin' shit with the chickens. You may laugh at the idea but I read in the paper the other day they bought out the contract for the superintendent of the Philadelphia schools for something like 900 large. I could tour all of Europe for that kind of money.

We've started working in the Weldshop already - made a mailbox post for the new school, fixed a couple of desks, I welded up a flange on an exhaust pipe for a big truck and I welded up a mount on a radiator for a 600 Suzuki today. Not a bad start to the school year, really. I hope to get some work done on a couple of my projects this year but I'm not making any predictions on any thing. Every time I get ready to hit a couple of licks on one of my long term projects, something else comes in the door. I'm just going to continue on the "let's finish some of this crap up before we start on anything else" path.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Soft as Pudding

I saw this in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal:

Young adults born in the 1980s and early 1990s leaped out of nicotine- and alcohol-free wombs to be deemed geniuses every time they passed a test, awarded trophies every time they caught a ball and tucked into comfy car seats on the victory ride over to their favorite sushi palace. They took groovy public-service internships at an age when their grandfathers were sweating on assembly lines or being shot at by Nazis, lived with their parents until they were 28, then proceeded directly to their shrinks for marathon weeping sessions every time they messed up a project at work. They're as soft as pudding, and they know it. The Greatest Generation didn't need triathlons or X-treme skateboarding.

"Soft as pudding", pretty funny that. Might help to explain why it's hard to find guys willing to tough it out in the boxing gym. It might also help to explain the state of education.

And speaking of education, I signed my new contract the other day but the courts have declared it illegal. Seems that you can't actually have a contract stating we can change your hours or working conditions as we see fit, and you're still going to get the same money, regardless.

Weekend's here. Cut the grass, go to the gym, build a barn, repeat.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Training Like it's 1889

That's the headline in the Olean, New York newspaper about Jimmy's upcoming training session in Belfast. I went to the paper's web site but I couldn't read the whole article because you need to sign in and all that jazz but I did read the article in it's entirety at the gym last night in a real live paper edition and it's a darn good article. We're supposed to show up there August 30th and train using the Muldoon method, which will include Jimmy plowing behind a horse, blacksmithing, horseback riding, tossing the medicine ball, walking, running, sparring and who knows what else. The best thing that I can see from what I've read of the training is that they had a Bass Ale every night with dinner.

It mentions in the article that Jimmy will be wearing some period correct tights while sparring. In the spirit of things I'm thinking of shaving off the full beard and going with some mutton chops and a handlebar mustache for the week. I haven't shaved the beard off in at least twenty years, I would guess. Might be nice to see a little more of the old face for a few days. I can't see me shaving every day, though. The beards not really a fashion statement, I'm just too lazy to get up every morning and shave.

On a completely different note, I got a little work in on the barn this week. I worked on the lifting beams. Depending on the weather, I'm planning on getting a little more done this weekend. Of course, I'll probably have to cut the grass again. I mow the front one day, the back the next day, wait a day and start over again. Between that and the gym, it's really hard to get anything else done now that I'm back in school. Shouldn't whine too loud though, still better than a real job.

The weekend's about here - enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School

I'm back in the saddle again. Starting year 36 and it looks like it might actually be a good one. My schedule is just about perfect. I start the day off with my vocational welding class, two beginning welding classes and then two wood shop classes. Of course these aren't the real course titles. The real ones are some type of "systems" or "processes" but that's OK. It looks like I've got a real good bunch of guys except for a couple of knuckleheads in one of the wood shop classes. If I've only got a couple, it should be a good year.

Finally got my computer running on Monday. My remote terminal in the shop still isn't working but that's not urgent. Just real convenient to have. We've been putting together some new lockers for the Weld Shop the last couple of days. According to the instructions, should take two people 30 minutes. We hope to be finished tomorrow after about five hours. They're going to be nice, though. The regular school lockers aren't big enough to fit a welding helmet and a lot of the students bring their own helmets in. They'll be able to keep them under lock and key and not have to drag them around or keep them in my office.

We're working on some things in the wood shop as well. The other guy left kind of a mess for me to straighten out. I don't blame him at all. He got an involuntary transfer and they cut a day from his contract that he could have used to get his stuff moved. Regardless, we're getting it taken care of and getting the opportunity to get things the way I want them. I'm not sure what all I need in there yet but I know we need to make a sled for the table saw and fix the router table. We'll tackle it a day at a time and just see how it goes. If things go as planned, I should be able to sneak the wooden boat I've wanted to build in there someplace. I'm not 100%, but I'm thinking about a Martin skiff. Wooden boat ran a how-to series on this one a few years back and looks pretty much like what I want as well as what I'm capable of building. I just got the new Wooden Boat magazine yesterday and there were several mentions of school boat building programs in there. We might be able to get a little positive press if things go well.

So I'm kind of like the Cub's fan during spring training. Always hopeful as hell that this will be a championship year and then the reality sets in. Well, maybe not that bad. I've had a lot of championship years. Even the Yankees don't make the World Series every year but I'm hoping to once again be a contender. If I can get the computer issues worked out, I should be golden.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Like Pulling Teeth

I had a wisdom tooth pulled Thursday afternoon - that was a lot of fun. As you can see from the photo, the roots curled quite a bit. And, of course, they curled the wrong direction for an easy extraction. So now a day and a half later, I've got a big hole in the back of my mouth and a sore jaw. It also has necessitated the changing of the diet. I'm suffering from chips and cookies withdrawal but eating oatmeal and yogurt is probably a lot better for me anyway. I'm going to try and lose a few pounds starting next week in the interest of lowering my blood pressure and just feeling better. Weaning myself off of chips and cookies is probably a good way to start.

I had to go in to school yesterday. I planned on getting some things organized, cleaned up and working on the computer. I got the clean-up taken care off. I went down to the Wood Shop to see about getting a little organization to both the shop and what I'm going to be doing. Struck out on the computer, though. I figured I'd sit down and get a start on my Moodle lesson plans but the computer wouldn't work. They were hooking up a projector in there and apparently didn't finish that job, so no computer. I've been asking for a projector for three years, so at least there's one hanging from the ceiling. I probably should have specified that I wanted one that worked. My bad. I did finish welding the lifting brackets while I was in there, so not a total waste of time.

School starts Monday and the little darlings report Tuesday. My 36th start but only one more after this one. Not sure what the heck I'm going to do in the Wood Shop this year but I think there might be a wooden boat in there someplace. With school starting, I'm going to be busy as hell until I finish the barn but they changed the hours, so I'll be getting home a little earlier every afternoon. I should be able to get a little something done every day until it's finished.

Happy birthday to the Missus today. We keep getting older but considering the alternative, that's a good thing.

I'm off to help with the 5K run and walk now. I'm going to be keeping an eye on the race walkers to make sure they don't cheat. Since I'm not competing, might as well help out a little. Hope the rain holds off.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Walls Are Ready

I finished up the walls yesterday. I got all the purlins installed and put up a few more diagonal braces. Those, in addition to the OSB sheets on the corners, should keep everything together once the lid is back on. The braces are screwed on rather than nailed which should make them a little more storm resistant as well as make them easier to remove when the time comes. I'll probably insulate and cover the inside walls at a later date. Maybe just run some more OSB around it. I've got plenty of time to decide that.

I started pulling the floor up last evening so I could set the lifting beams. Seems the boys glued and nailed the floor panels down. I got one side done before the mosquitoes started to swarm over me. I'm going to work on some odds and ends this morning and get a wisdom tooth pulled this afternoon. I have to go in to work tomorrow, so I probably won't get back to the barn project until Sat. afternoon. I've got stuff going on Sunday as well, so if I'm lucky, I might be able to have the lifting beams ready to go before Monday. Of course, they are forecasting more rain for the weekend.

So it looks like I'm not quite going to be back to where I started the summer on this project. It's taken up most of the summer but it's actually been kind of fun. Lot's of hard work in the miserable heat and humidity but an interesting challenge. If the lifting and setting of the roof goes as planned, then it will be worth a pat on the back and maybe an "Atta Boy". If it doesn't go as planned, well, I don't even want to think about that.

My favorite Ducati of all time - 900 SS. Photo from here.

When the barn gets done, it'll be time to work on the projects again. I'm thinking I really need to get a street bike together. I've got a lot to do at school the first couple of weeks - new class to teach, Moodle thing to master, get my self organized a little - and then I'll be able to tackle a few things. Every time I go out into my shop I hear the 900 Kaw calling my name. If I drug that over to school and spent a few evenings or Saturday afternoons working on it, I'd have it done pretty quick. Not really that much more to do. Be nice to have a bike to ride again. Been a long time now since I had something to ride. That needs to change.

Enough resting. Gotta get a little something done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Lifting Lugs

Cut Edge

I picked up the pieces for my lifting cradle from Steelcraft Fabricators. Taking my stuff there was a wise move. I could have cut the parts out myself but I can't drill an 1-1/8" hole so I would have had to cut everything by hand, including the hole. By the time I got them done and cleaned up, it just wasn't going to be worth it. If you look at the close up of the cut edge, that's just how the part comes from the torch. No slag to chip off, the edges are square and the dimensions are right on the money. Can't beat that. Good people to do business with. I started welding things together this morning - got the four lifting thingies tacked together and two welded up before lunch. Picked up a few more 2x4s on the way home so I can finish running the purlins around the building. The walls are just about ready for the top to be put back on.

It looks like it's a go for the trip to the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame trip. There was a little write up in the local paper out there about Jimmy coming to train. I'll have to burn most of my personal business days but that's not much of a hardship. It should be a lot of fun and unlike the trip to Oklahoma, I'll be able to do more than just sit around in a hotel room. I'm going to try and work out as much as possible while I'm there. Since I quit running and cycling, both my weight and blood pressure have crept up. I need to keep both of those under control so I can enjoy my upcoming retirement.

The weather is supposed to be just about perfect tomorrow. I'm going to work on the barn, naturally enough, but what I should do is go fishing. The weather this summer has been terrible. It was either hot and humid or storming. I can't remember having more than one of those nice summer showers. It's always thunder, lightning and wind gusts. Kind of like yesterday, actually. Anyway, tomorrow's going to be a good one and that will make two in a row. Enjoy them while we got 'em.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Header's In

I got some much needed help this morning moving the lifting beams and the header. Since I'm not sure of the company policy, I won't mention who helped, but his service truck with the crane made things real easy. It took about 2-1/2 hours to load the beams, transport them, stick them under the barn roof, set the header and put the spiral staircase on the trailer to take back to school. If it would have taken two hours and 25 minutes, we wouldn't have gotten wet. A damn storm blew in just as we were setting the header. We still got the stair set on the trailer, even though it was like a big lightning rod hanging off the end of the crane, just as the rain started really coming down. We both got soaked, but for me at least, it was well worth it.

It's good to have friends - thanks.

Next step on the walls is to get the plywood on the corners to keep everything together and square, complete the header installation and start nailing up the purlins. Next step on the roof section is to make the spreader bar and lifting what-cha-ma-call-its for the lifting beams. I took some stock over to the place I buy my material Friday and he's going to cut out some pieces for me on his big plasma. Those should be done tomorrow afternoon. Once I get those, I can make the lifting things and slide those on the beams and bolt them in. Then it's jack the beams and cross ties into place and secure all that. After that, take a few roof sections off and call the wrecker. Piece O' Cake.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I got my new mower delivered this morning. I spent a good part of Thursday checking out just about every lawn and garden outfit within a 30 mile radius. I finally settled on a Bad Boy. Because it's a zero turn, I had visions of ramming into and mowing off about everything in sight but I figured it out pretty quick. I managed to mow the front and back prior to heading out to the gym at ten. Looks like I'll be able to mow in just about half the time it took before. Of course, the other mower wouldn't hardly back up anymore, so that slowed things down considerably.

I went over to school in the afternoon and finished bolting together the second lifting beam. I've got some help coming in the morning to get them loaded on the trailer. Since I'm not sure how long it will take to load and deliver them, I'm not sure what else we can get done. It'll be nice if we can get the header spotted inside the barn or up on some scaffolding. I don't want to take too much of his time - he works lots of hours.

I got a little more work done on the walls but got rained out this afternoon. That means the grass is going to continue to grow - good thing I got the mower. Surly gave me a hand moving the last of the appliances back into the kitchen. I got the trim installed in the laundry room but I've still got a couple of pieces to finish in the kitchen. I didn't think of it until now or I would have worked on it earlier today. I need to remember the goal for the year: Finish what you start and don't start anything else until you do. It's been a little trouble finishing anything with the barn job going on but it's been real easy not to start anything else, however.

Won't be long and it'll be time for lift-off. I might be able to schedule the wrecker for the end of the week. I'm getting a wisdom tooth pulled on Thursday plus I've got a few other odds and ends to look after this week. Just might be able to get the lid put back on, though.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We've Got Walls

The Building Trades Instructor came by today and gave me a hand on the walls of the barn. We got the two I already had built put up and we got the last one pretty much done. I need to line up some muscle to give us a hand lifting the header up onto the plate and while the muscle is here, they can give me a hand putting the lifting beams under the lid. I'm shooting for Monday. I need to finish the one beam first and I've got some computer training on Friday. I also need to go shopping for a lawn mower. It looks like mine isn't going to be able to finish out the season.

The tile guys finished up today - the new floor looks pretty nice. It's a hell of an improvement from the carpet that was in there. Who puts carpet in a kitchen anyway? Must have been someone who didn't cook. I need to let the tile set up a day before I start putting the appliances back and I need to get the baseboard installed after that. Another job for my spare time.

As always, lots to do and little time to get it done. Actually, I would have gotten more done this summer if I wasn't so damn tired at the end of the day. The heat sucks the strength out of me and when I could be getting some other things done inside, I'm rocking back in the recliner nursing a sore chest or back or just trying to recover. One good thing, in a oddball sort of way, is that most of the back issues lately are the standard lower back thing caused by the heavy lifting. I've been nursing that for years - kind of like an old friend come-a-callin' instead of the other crap I've had going on. I'll be able to rest Friday while I'm learning to Moodle. Hard to get too excited about something like that when you're already starting to think of yourself as a short timer. But hey, we got walls!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Venice Morning

Photo From Here:

Not exactly a Venice morning (more like a Kersey morning) but I recognized this spot as soon as I saw the photograph. I also was looking at the new Bicycling magazine yesterday morning and there's an article in there about a bike ride in the area around Siena. Proud to say I've been there too.

Looks like another hot day on tap. I told the Missus the other day I can't wait for the knuckleheads on the radio to be forecasting wind chill advisories instead of the damn heat index. They're forecasting some storms for this week. Might have a tough time getting anything done on the barn. I'm going to try and finish up the other lifting beam today and be ready to go on that, at least.

Only two weeks left of my vacation. Didn't get diddly squat done on the list of things I'd hoped to get accomplished, but like the Cubs, there's always next year. The tile guys showed up though, so we'll have a new floor in the kitchen and laundry room. Could be worse, all things considered.

Stay cool.