Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jimmy's Fight

Jimmy's last fight didn't turn out quite like we hoped, losing a 6 round decision last night, but the career has come to a close just the same. I took Jimmy to the Golden Gloves 17 years ago on real short notice. He didn't fare too well but he was hooked. He eventually won a couple of amateur titles and represented Indiana at the National Golden Gloves in Denver. After turning pro, he won the Indiana Middleweight title, eventually fighting about 25 times with 19 wins against 4 losses plus a no contest and a draw. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

I knew nothing about the pro fight game when Jimmy made the decision to turn pro, so Jimmy has trained under both Dennis Hardesty and Jack Callahan, both well known and respected individuals here in the Midwest. I continued to help with his training and I learned quite a bit about training methods and about the pro fight game along the way. It has been a great experience for both Jimmy and I but I'm not the least bit sorry Jimmy has chosen to step down. Every athlete must make that decision at some point and he made it at the right time. He hasn't gotten hurt, he still has all of his faculties, he has done what he set out to do and he has made a lot of friends along the way. He has been the consummate professional, sharing the success when he has done well and taking full responsibility when it hasn't. 

It's been a great trip - thanks Jimmy for letting me come along.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Jimmy Holmes Day

It's Jimmy Holmes Day in the lovely town of Belfast, New York. The Go Jimmy sign is in front of The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame where Jimmy and I trained last September. 

Tonight's Jimmy's last fight. He's been boxing for 17 years. I was with him for the first and I'll be with him for the last. It's been a great run and proud to have been a part of it. 

Thanks to the folks in Belfast - we'll be back this summer!

Good luck tonight to my friend and business partner, Gentleman Jimmy Holmes. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hittin' The List

Photo From Here

The to-do list, that is. I've been pecking away at all kinds of things the last few days. Finishing up the staircase installation, putting up some more OSB on the walls in the top of the barn, sharpening the mower blades so I can  mow again, starting some seeds. Lots of other little things as well.

Not so busy I can't waste a little time on the internet and catch up a little on my reading, however. I've been looking at a few motorcycle blogs lately that feature classic bikes and racers like the one in the above photo. This nice weather has me wanting to ride. As soon as I get a little bit more done on the barn and garden, it will definitely be time to get back on a two wheeler project of some sort. Every time I fill up the truck it costs a hundred bucks. Time to get the little Rapido running.
Photo From Here
This one's all slicked up and shiny. Mines not ready to be seen in the company of the Norton but it's ready to see some daylight. All I need is a little time. Seems like that's always the case, though. I am going to have something to show for my time this week at least. Might not be a motorcycle, but there's real, measurable progress.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Break Time!

It's Spring Break and the weather is actually spring like. We've been setting records here lately with all the 80 degree days - I actually mowed the front yard this afternoon. I can't remember ever cutting the grass in March here in northwest Indiana. Not complaining, mind you. It's been pretty much ideal by my standards. It cooled off later in the day, though. Actually closer to what we normally would be having. Looking at a high of 60 and sunny tomorrow, that's just plain great.

We got some artwork done the on our Thursday collaboration with the art class. The piece on the right is finished other than a little clean up and paint. The piece on the left is part of  fairly intricate design. It's being made from some thin sheet metal so I'm welding it up after one of the Welding students cuts the pieces. We're making display panels in the Wood Shop for the big art show so I've got artsy-fartsy stuff going on in two places.

I got the spiral stairs plumbed up this afternoon. I'm still doing a little thinking about the best way to tie everything together on the top. I'm going to make a couple of collars to slide over the center pipe and stick one of those on and take it from there. Since my welder's working again, I might just make a couple of pieces and clamp them in place on the top floor where it's cut out and then tack them to the collar. Probably be the easiest. The other collar will be used to extend the center pipe so I can tie into the railing that goes around the floor cut-out. The stairs are clamped in place so they're usable but I need to get the railing put around the hole before I make too many trips upstairs and find myself falling right back down.
The above photo is a piece for the VW floor repair. It goes along the bottom of the kick panel from the door opening to the firewall. I'm not worried about making anything as per the factory. I'm just replacing things so they'll be strong and functional. It's tacked in and looks good just the same. Just not quite the same as stock. As soon as I finish welding it in I can put the floor pan in on that side. I need to get a roll of smaller wire for my MIG machine or pull out the 110 volt machine, however. It's a little tricky trying to weld that thin stuff with .035" wire. I've got .030" on the little one. .005" makes a big difference on the wire diameter, believe it or not.

I've got a list a mile long of things to do over break but I'm looking forward to seeing some progress. Now that the barn is no longer the all consuming project, I can start back on a few of the loose ends. The students will all be worthless after break but I don't fight it like I used to do. I just don't take on any big jobs unless I want to do them myself, because that's what ends up happening. I'll just keep pitching and hopefully they'll do a little bit bit of catching. I handed out report cards the other day and it looks like a lot of them have some big holes in their gloves, though. That explains a lot when it comes to their performance in the Wood Shop. Lots of wasted talent there, unfortunately. But I won't have to worry about that for at least a week anyway.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Common Core

Photo From Here
I finally got a chance to work on the VW. I had a pretty small crowd at Open Shop the other night so I hit a few licks on that job. I'm working on repairing the floor/firewall/heater channel on the passenger side. I got quite a bit done between Open Shop and during the day yesterday. I had a bunch of guys absent or on field trips so I did a little of my own work for a change. I shot a couple of before and after photos and when I get a little more done, I'll throw a couple of them up here.

I finally got around to putting in the pipe coupling on the bottom tray of my cider press the other day. I couldn't find a stainless steel coupling locally so I was waiting to get one when I put an order in to the industrial supplier I buy stuff from occasionally. Done deal now. Finished up with the repairs on the spiral staircase as well. I hope to get that here and put in place tomorrow. I'll be able to get it anchored down over Spring Break and that'll be another one off the list.

The Golden Gloves has started and I've got crazy meetings to go to. Went to one last night - short film about kids with autism and then break out sessions by departments for Common Core standards. I'm getting tired of hearing about those things. If shop teachers are supposed to be teaching their specific skill area and English and math and the social sciences, why do we need the rest of the faculty. Just hire a couple more shop teachers and send everyone else home. Or more realistically, what makes you think I'm going to be able to make a measurable improvement in little Johnny's reading level when no one else has been able to do much in the last ten years? Our class periods are only 48 minutes long. They come in, I give them the line-up for the day, they change clothes and get the tools out, they weld for about 30 minutes, clean up, change clothes and they're gone - 2-1/2 hours of welding time per week. And I'm going to teach them how to read. You want them to read? Have their parents read to them every day when they're little and keep their little mitts off anything that's electronic. No cell phone, X-Box, Nintendo, computer. Play good music in the house with a real radio not something with ear buds. Get them outside everyday for some exercise and playtime. Take them to the library and get them books not movies. And for Pete's sake, if they write anything at all, make them use the King's English and not cell phone short hand.

I posted this from the Starlet Showcase a while back but it bears repeating. His advice to high school students at the start of the school year:

Anyway, here's my advice: read a book, read lots of books, keep your face washed and don't worry about your complexion too much, don't give your teachers a hard time, don't be late for everything, always use condoms, get plenty of sleep but not during class, and if you go home with someone and he doesn't own any books, don't sleep with him. That's basically it. Have fun. 

Also from the Starlet Showcase:

"Read in order to live" - Gustave Flaubert
"Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life" - Mortimer J. Adler

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 19, 2012

There's Hope For Us After All

While I'm always wondering about the state of manufacturing in the good ole US of A, it seems there are still plenty of bright spots out there. The above photo comes from a recent post at the Lovely Bicycle blog. The blog post is a tour through the facilities of Seven Cycles. You get a chance to see real craftsmen* at work and the post makes some comments about the importance of local business and industry. Coincidentally, The Handverker blog posted up the American Craftsman Project on the same day. 

The American Craftsman Project is a photo essay of talented people making things with skilled hands. Pretty simple premise and I think it is most handsomely done. Hand made boots, skis, banjos, baseball gloves - all kinds of things. All made with care and pride and right here in America. 

If you've got a little time to waste, and you must if you're reading this, I suggest you check both of them out. As a shop teacher, the hope is always that the students will turn out to be skilled craftsmen. Even if that were to come to pass, there would be no place locally to employ them all but the skills would be there. Skills, and the thinking process that comes along with the skill acquisition. And of course the pride that all skilled craftsmen take in doing their jobs. 

I urge all of you to support these types of businesses. Whether it's a bicycle or a baseball glove, banjo or boots, do yourself and these talented people justice by getting a real hand made item that will last and can be used with pride.

* I use the term craftsmen in a non-gender specific way. Craftspeople, in my book at least, always indicates people who make craft items. Nothing wrong with that, just not the same thing. Craftswomen? Just sounds wrong. Craftsman? - high order skill set regardless of gender.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Magnolia Time

Spring has definitely come to the Midwest. It's been hitting 80 degrees for the past few days, setting records each day it seems. I was surprised to see some blossoms on the magnolia tree in the top photo. This is the first year it has flowered. Not too many blossoms but they are lovely. The hand in the photo was to keep the wind from blowing it around but it also gives a sense of scale. The flower is about 4" across. The daffodils and crocus are all popping up as well. I'm on Spring Break in a week and it will probably snow then.

I spent most of the day outside yesterday working around the outside of the barn. The new barn sets inside the foundation of the old barn which means I've got a 2-3' space around three sides that will be perfect for plantings. I took the broken concrete from the front and filled in a spot about 12' long in the back for a spot to store my fire wood and then filled in the remainder with black dirt. I'm going to plant vegetables in there. I'm planning on getting a deck built on the south side but on both sides of that will be black dirt for more vegetables. There are three spots in the front, one between the doors and at both ends of the building, that will have plantings but the Missus has claimed those.

Looks like it's going to continue to be unseasonably warm for a couple more days so I need to get out and take advantage of the weather. You should do the same.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Update

Photo From Here

This is what I need to make for the VW - Just need a month's worth of 30 hour days to get caught up
Tailstock Repair
Today's the end of the nine weeks grading period and we have one more week until Spring Break, after which, even the good students turn worthless. The weather has been record breaking warm and it looks like that will continue for a few more days. I'm glad to see it. I need to be outside getting a few things done and my mental health needs the renewal of life and promise of hope that Spring brings with it. Last year at this time it was off to Italy, this year it's off to the dentist, chores around the shack and boxing.

The Golden Gloves started last night in Indy but we didn't have anyone scheduled. We're having a fundraising show tonight at the gym to defray our expenses of taking guys down there in the following weeks.  We've got eight bouts on the card tonight - should be a good show. Jimmy will be fighting on the 30th. It looks to be his last pro fight. That's been a fun ride. I was with him from the start and I'll be there at the end. It's been a lot of work on his part, but chasing your dream typically is. He's done well and I'm happy to have been a part of it.

I've been fixing things right and left at school. I've got the wood lathes mostly tuned up. A couple of the tailstocks wouldn't lock in place. The locking rod had a groove worn in them from the "U" bolt that rides around the outside of the rod. Simple fix. Weld up the groove, grind, file, reassemble and adjust. Not hard, just another thing that needed to be done. The biggest irritation is the fact that the previous teachers could have easily taken them apart and brought them down to me for repair rather than letting them go. As an "Old School" shop teacher, equipment maintenance is just a fact of life and something most of us old guys prided ourselves on. It seems the new "Technology Educators" aren't quite as tuned in to repair. I know they don't teach that sort of thing in college but it's your shop, maintain it. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the shop classes in the next few years.

Our school looks to be switching to the Career Pathways approach, which will be what used to be referred to as vocational. The students will also have the Project Lead the Way option, which is focused on engineering. I like the idea of having real craftsmen in the shops. When I first started I taught at a comprehensive high school that had several vocational programs. I was blessed to work with some really good "mechanics". The Machine Trades instructor was an exceptionally good craftsman and school teacher - I really learned a lot from that guy. Potentially, the Career Pathways could make things more like they used to be. At our school that could be a good thing. The students will have lots of options if they don't flunk their English and math classes like many of them do. It's hard to take many good electives when you're retaking the required's.

Warm weather ahead - get out and enjoy it. Almost time to get the garden started around here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Few Comments -

on comments.

I got a comment from a Ms. A on my last post - two actually. Ms. A and Mr. B have started the blog Indiana Teacher Project to allow teachers to sound off about some of the negative things we encounter without having to worry about reprisals. It'll be interesting to see how that goes. I've got a few things I'd like to say but I don't care for the idea of anyone making statements anonymously. I know that if I had posted some of the stupid things that went on at my previous employer online, I would have had hell to pay. Believe it or not, I really don't have much to complain about right now. Unless of course you consider the idiot politicians and policy makers that are doing their best to destroy public education by ramming a bunch of reforms down our throats that don't address the real issues. Maybe there is something to anonymous posting after all.

The second of Ms. A's comments allowed me to identified her so I thought it prudent to eliminate that one in light of her mission with the Teacher Project. While taking care of that little detail I came across a few other comments that I hadn't read yet or replied to. I should probably check back a few more posts than what I normally do, it would appear.

Frankie Flood sent me the link to the Tradesman movie. Thanks to him for that. I've watched the first half and was a little disappointed. The plumbers act like some of my knuckleheads on the job and what I was hoping for was a little more of the art that the title alludes to. Someone finally made a movie to tell the story of what craftsman do and it just didn't click with me. I've been trying to put it into words and haven't been able to do that to my satisfaction either.  If you check the Handverker link you can see some of the art side of the trades that Mr. Flood is involved in and if you go back here you'll see a commercial for Danner boots that's more like what I thought the movie should have been.

Chris commented about an old post that had a photo of a cool Honda 50 powered bicycle. I looked back and couldn't find the original posting of the photo either. No help there, I'm afraid.

Sarah commented back in January on the barn project. Thanks for the kind words.

So that's all the comments in regards to the comments. I appreciate everyone reading and commenting.

The Missus and I are celebrating our 41st year of wedded bliss today. You can believe after 40 years of marriage there have been some interesting comments passed between us but we're pushing forward and plan to until death do us part.

Things are greening up and Spring is in the air. Have a good week.

Friday, March 9, 2012


It's been a busy but productive week. We had our visit from the AdvanceEd group to evaluate our school. From the remarks made by the group chairperson at the exit meeting, we're looking pretty good. I think everyone in the building when asked about our weaknesses mentioned the dismal state of our technology. Hopefully that will help bring about some changes in that department. So now that the inspection team has left, we can gather the Red Cross blankets and the ping pong balls back up and store them until the next visit.

The top photo shows the trolley beam all painted up along with a uniform rack and a stool for the new Middle School - made the rack, repaired the stool. While I was waiting to have my interview with the AdvanceEd team yesterday, the boss cornered me and wants me to make some stanchions for crowd control in the cafeteria. I made some when I first started here but apparently the principal of the new school  took them. They had four, now they'll have six.

Got a little work done on the boat this week. Just what the doctor ordered. I've been in a funk lately and the boat building seems to be loosening up the Vise Grip on my mental health.The oars for the boat came in the other day, so that was all it took to get me back on the path to righteous redemption. I'd like to have everything pretty well set on the sides before Spring Break. If not done, at least well along the way. Then I can turn it over and work on finishing it up during the break. I've got something going on just about every night until then, however. I might start showing up to work a little earlier every day to get a little time in on it. 

As always, lots of other little jobs sprinkled in with some actual school teaching - worked on welding symbols this week. Need some time on deciphering the new CNC manual. Maybe see about a little of that this weekend. The Woodshop boys are about finished with their little boxes. We'll be working on the lathe and something else next week. Not sure what but I'll think of something.

Have a good weekend and don't forget to stop and count your blessings.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cycling Days Are Coming

I got the new elk hide on the handle bars as mentioned in the previous post. Pretty straight forward job. I put the bars in the vise, turned on the radio and sewed them up. There's some sticky tape on the inside of the hide which helps hold it in place while you're sewing. The bars look pretty sexy with the new wrap and the custom end plugs. I need to get some hoods for the brake levers. I've got new white cables that I'll throw on when I put the hoods on. I'm heading towards the bike shop next weekend, I think. They probably won't have any in stock but the guy will order anything I need. Nice little shop with pleasant and helpful people. I took the bike for a little spin after I got it home. I sure don't have the legs I did a couple of years ago but I'm planning on riding to work a couple days a week at least starting real soon. My cardio isn't too bad, so as long as I can get the back/chest under control I'll be riding again. I was talking to my nephew last week and he's doing some cycling now. I'd like to get back into shape and maybe he and I can do a metric century or something together this summer. 

Have a good week.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Raring To Go
I got the new CNC plasma pretty well ready to go. I'm going to pick up a couple of wire holder downers or whatever they're called to fasten the wires coming from the control box onto the wall to neaten that up a little but otherwise it's ready. There's a water table coming as part of a rebate deal, so as soon as that shows up it should be all systems go. As long as I'm ready, that is. The instruction manual for the software is 195 pages long - lots to digest there. It has a tutorial and when I opened it up a dialogue box popped up and told me there were a couple of errors in the tutorial. I'll call them next week and see what the story is on that. Even without the table I can do an offline run to develop my programming skills. 

Crank Ring Repair
Bar End Plugs
Put a little time in as Bicycle Repairman as the old Monty Python skit went. One of the students brought me his bike with the big chain ring bent pretty severely. I took it off the bike and was able to massage it back to pert near straight. It still has a little run-out but it shouldn't be noticeable when riding. I'm working on my touring bike a little as well. The bar end plugs in the photo are sporting a logo from an outfit that used to make furniture and cabinets. I'm supposed to be related to them somewhere way back when. I blanked out several pairs a couple of years ago, figured out the coordinates of everything and my pal Kevin wrote the CNC program and machined the logo in for me. I put them in the handlebars and put my new elk hide bar wrap on last night. I couldn't find any brown bar tape to match the color of the bike frame when I was looking for it and instead of putting on new tape at least once every season, this stuff looks a whole bunch cooler and should last a few years. I'll post a photo of the finished job when I get the bars back on the bike.

I knocked out a couple of projects in the Woodshop this week as well. I got the new plywood on the scaffold planks and a couple of other piddly things done while the boys were working on the little boxes they're making. It seems to be going much better than the footstool project. I took a much different approach this time. I put drawings and the sequence of operations on the board and had sample pieces made up. They can't look at a drawing and figure out what they're supposed to make even on simple parts. Now that the year is about three quarters over, I've finally got a handle on how to get through to them - drawings, written instructions, demonstrations, sample parts and repeat all oral instructions at least six times. They're still making mistakes but not near as many. We're going to be starting the wood lathe pretty soon. That should make for some interesting/scary times.

I'm going to put a little more work in on the garage door openers this weekend. I had one of the boys make a couple of brackets I needed to hang the opener from the ceiling yesterday. Depending on the weather and what else comes up, I should have the second opener close to being finished this weekend. I've got a few other things I'd rather be working on like the boat and my 900 but I really need to stay with the barn project until I've got the electric done.

Hope all of you are coming through this crazy weather unscathed. A couple more little towns here in Indiana wiped off the map the last few days. Having a barn blow down was tough but nothing like having your whole town blown away. My heart goes out to them.