Friday, June 29, 2012

Hunnert Degrees

It managed to get up to 100 degrees yesterday - it was still 90 at 7:30 last night in fact. It cooled off a little when a storm came through and dropped a little rain on us but that didn't help with the humidity any. The forecast calls for 90 degree days and a chance of storms for the next four days or so. Not really the type of weather that I can feel good about. It would be nice if we actually got a decent amount of rainfall - things are really dry. One thing about it, however, it's not just here. It's record setting hot all over the place.

Because of the heat, I've got nothing planned for the next few days. Just going to try to keep cool and relax. I might do a little darkroom work. I've got a couple of negatives I'd like to make prints from. That'll at least get me out of the recliner. I'm turning into the old retired guy. I've got all day to do things and don't do any of them because I've always got tomorrow. Soon as it cools off, I'll be back on it. Trouble is, that might not be until October.

Have a good weekend and stay cool. It's dangerous hot out there for a lot of you folks!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bike & Photo

I want a bike like this and take a photograph like this. Not asking too much, is it? (Both of these from MotArt Journal)

I had my MRI on the heart yesterday. That's an interesting experience - lots of holding your breath for 20 seconds at a time. I did get a CD out of the deal though. As much as they get for those tests, I'm thinking a souvenir CD and a T shirt  would be cool. Maybe screen print your heart on the shirt with some kind of catchy slogan "I've got my heart on for you", or something. Anyway, next up is a review from the Doc. Not sure when on that but I've quit being in a hurry about all this. I'm figuring, if there's no hurry, that's a real good thing.

I've been working on the barn and the upstairs woodshop is coming along right smartly. I need to decide what type of ceiling lighting I'm going to use. I've got three outlets wired to a switch so I can plug in most anything that suits me. Maybe talk to the man with the crane and see about getting my tools up there first and then locate the lighting to accommodate the equipment. It's hot again - looking like maybe a 100 today - so I won't be getting much done until it cools off a little but I've got some things done this week. A guy can get a lot done with 4 or 5 hours of easy work most every day. Before I started the gym and got old, that used to be my routine. Come home from work, get a bite and then head out to the shop most every night. Either that or stay late at work and put in a few hours. What I need now is to get myself a regular workout schedule to get some stretching and strength training in along with working on things around the shack and I'll be set. Should be pretty easy to find the time if I retire.

I'll keep plugging away. You stay cool.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Americani A Firenze

Sticking with the art theme, the Wall Street Journal had a review of the exhibition "Americans in Florence: Sargent and the American Impressionists" at the Palazzo Strozzi. The Sargent in the exhibition's title refers to John Singer Sargent, an American born in Florence who lived most of his life in Europe. Once again, if I was filthy rich, after checking out the Rodchenko exhibit in Krakow, I'd hot foot it over to Florence and see this exhibit. If like me, you can only think about traveling to Europe on a whim, you can see more of the exhibit at

Sometimes I wish I had pursued a career a little more lucrative than school teaching. It would have been nice to have a few more bucks in my pocket for things like traveling overseas. My art education has been extremely neglected. Other than a little art instruction as part of elementary school and a film appreciation course I managed to sneak in at the college level, everything I know I pretty much picked up on my own. That of course explains why I don't know much, but it wouldn't hurt to actually teach a little bit of art appreciation in school instead of ramming all that algebra down the student's throats. I think we could all benefit from an understanding and appreciation of the fine arts. Nobody uses that much algebra anyway.

Maybe I should further my education with a trip to the Art Institute. They've got an exhibit of Italian drawings from the Renaissance going on now. The last time I was there it was to see the Charles Sheeler exhibit about five years ago. I can take the "Vomit Comet" and spend a day in the city. A couple hours at the museum, walk around for a bit, shoot a roll of film. Always a good time.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Girl With Leica
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about an exhibition of the works of Alexander Rodchenko at the National Museum in Krakow, Poland. I don't know too much about the man but I'd like to know more. His photographs are typically taken from different angles and/or viewpoints. I haven't seen much of his work but I've been impressed with every thing that I've seen. If I was filthy rich, I'd fly to Poland and check out the exhibition for a little bit o' inspiration.

I've been wanting to get out and shoot some pictures but it's just been too bloody hot. It's supposed to cool off for a couple of days, so maybe I can get the big camera out and shoot a couple of shots. If nothing else, run a roll through the twin lens or the 35mm. Instead of doing my "walkies" around the shack, I can take the show on the road.

It was a pretty good weekend. I got a nice bike ride in Sunday morning and finished up all the wiring in the new barn except for running the wire from the pole to the panel. I'll get a list of materials put together and get on that this week. It'll be nice to have that done.

Have a good week.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Barn Shelves

100 miles
Barn Shelf
Shelf Bracket
I got the shelves taken care of  for the new barn yesterday. I had the heavy duty wall brackets but didn't have/couldn't find enough shelf brackets. The store bought pieces are a "U" shaped stamping that are hot-dip galvanized. I made mine out of square tubing. The end that mounts to the wall bracket I cut out on the bandsaw and the wiz wheel, then did a little touch-up with a file. The other end I cut back at a 45 degree angle and drilled a hole so I could screw the shelf board to them. The shelf boards are 2" x 12" that were part of the lifting cradle. I ripped a piece in half and added that to a full width piece so the shelves are 16" wide. I made four brackets that width and I think I'll make two more to fit the 12" width. That'll give me two wide shelves and one narrower one. That should be plenty of shelf space on the lower level. I want to keep the lower level of the barn pretty sparse.

The top fuzzy photo is the speedometer on my road bike. I put a new battery in it and cleaned the bike up just before I had the heart attack. As you can not so clearly see, the odometer reads 101.3 miles. Nothing great here but a significant mental milestone for me. I've been increasing the mileage and the speed a little at a time. In the past my normal cruising speed was about 15 mph. I'm working on about 12 mph now depending on conditions on a 4 mile ride. Nothing earth shattering but I'm making some progress. I want to eventually work my way up to a metric century - 62 miles. It might take me until next year but that's OK. I'll just keep pecking away at it until I get more info from the Doc. and then adjust my workout accordingly.

It cooled off a little yesterday after the little bit of rain came through. Hopefully it'll stay that way for a few days. They said on the Weather Channel the other day that we've had 12 days of 90 degree weather already this year, probably 13 now, and we normally average only about 16. I know my electric bill is going to be a killer this month with the AC and the fans running most of the day. Anyway, if it stays a little cooler, I can get a few more things done. It feels good to be making some things again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Beautiful Day

Headed south on Saturday afternoon to deliver the Fair Lady and attend the memorial service for my brother. When he was diagnosed with cancer, some of the people he worked with were going to have a fundraiser for him. Unfortunately, he passed away before that plan could be put into action. But since he didn't want a funeral, the fundraiser became a memorial service/family reunion/picnic/hootenanny. It was just the kind of thing that John would have wanted. Lots of good people, good food, good music, and good fellowship. 

My deepest and most heartfelt thanks go out to all who helped and who were able to attend. There's a lot more I'd like to say but I just can't find the words. 


Saturday, June 16, 2012


I finished up cardiac rehab the other day as documented by the above certificate suitable for framing. I completed Phase II but don't remember there being a Phase I. Maybe that was walking the hallway while in the hospital. Regardless, they gave me my certificate, a pedometer and sent me on my way with instructions to work my way up to 10,000 steps per day. 10,000 steps translates into roughly 5 miles, which is a pretty good distance. Without factoring in specific exercise time, I walked about 5,000 steps the first few days working around the shack and just doing what I do during the course of the day. I've been riding my bike every day as part of my routine but I need to add some upper body exercise. Unfortunately, I'm still in limbo.

I met with the Doctor a couple of days ago and he wants to do another test on the heart and maybe another angioplasty. I was hoping to get the go-ahead to start doing a little more instead of continuing to just spin my wheels. Could be worse, though.

I found some fuel line for the Rapido and the Missus picked up a small windmill that is in need of repair, of course. It's missing some of the vanes and one leg is broken, so I can work on that and keep plugging along on the Rapido while I'm waiting on testing and Dr.'s visits. Plus it's going to be in the 90's for the next week, so I'll have to take it a little easy anyway. 

Have a good weekend and happy Father's Day to all of you Daddy-O's out there.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fair Lady

I put the finishing touches on the sister-in-law's bicycle yesterday. Looks quite a bit better than when I brought it home about a month ago, even if I do say so  myself. Lots of steel wool and elbow grease but it paid off handsomely. The three speed shifter works again and it rides nice on the new tires. The rear rim is still a little rusty and I had to go with the blackwall tires after all but I'm sure the sister-in-law will be pleased.  If you check the May 17th post, you can see the before photo. It's a lot shinier and it works. I'm calling it finished.

The wiring job is progressing slowly and I got a couple of other things done in the barn. I need to take a 1/2 day and clean up the shop before tackling anything else. When I can see the top of the workbench again, I'll jerk the air cleaner canister off the Rapido and weld that up. I still need to see about a piece of fuel line for it, as well. I checked two places and no luck so far. I'll try a couple of more local joints and then start expanding the search area. No hurry on the Rapido. It's a rainy day job. It just hasn't been raining. I've got a job clamped up in the milling machine I need to finish up but I've been waiting for medical clearance - it's not easy being the model patient. I'll be finding out real soon about that. Let's hope for the best.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bee's Knees

I made a run down to the bike shop Saturday morning and picked up the new hand grips for the Fair Lady job. While grabbing them out of the truck when I got home, I noticed a dead bumblebee on the apron in front of the barn - that would be it at the top of the photo. I see a few of these every summer around here. I'm not sure what the life span of a bumblebee is, but officially, summer hasn't even started yet and it's all over for him/her. It truly is a jungle out there.

I'll be finishing up the Fair Lady this week and the new hand grips will be the bee's knees. I got the last of the wiring in the bottom of the barn finished up and I'll be finishing rehab this week. I like sentences that have the word finishing in them. Finished is even better. It's been too hot for me to work outside during the middle of the day the last couple of days but things are getting done and I'm getting some of my old pep back. I go to the Doc this week and, hopefully, I'll be finished with most of the physical restrictions. Then I can decide if I'm finished with teaching and if I'm finished hemming and hawing about buying that Sportster - I did stop by the lot the other day and it's still there.

I got a couple of pieces cut to finish the railing installation and picked up some tubing to make some shelf brackets for the new barn while I was out, as well. I'm going to try and get those made up and installed this week. I actually think I'm setting up a pretty good pattern for myself. I get out in the morning and get my exercise in and then hit a few licks on the job for the day before it gets too hot. Depending on the weather and my disposition, I go back out for a little walk or work after dinner when it cools down a bit. Things are getting accomplished, I'm healing up, and I have a little time to just relax and read or do a little day dreaming/project planning. It looks like it's going to cool off a little for the next few days. That'll be even better.

Have a good week.

Friday, June 8, 2012

2,200 Calories?

So I finished up the Prevent a Second Heart Attack book and I found everything in it both believable and workable until I get to the last chapter on prevention methods, and that's the one about exercise. If you've been reading here for any length of time you know I'm a huge proponent of exercise. However, I had a little trouble with one sentence in the book: "Studies show that if you burn at least 1,600 calories per week through exercise, you will halt the progression of atherosclerosis - and if you burn 2,200 calories per week, you can actually reverse the progression of atherosclerosis."

More than once I've burned 2,200 calories in a day, let alone a week, and my average week easily tops 1,600. When I was riding my bike to work every day I was burning about 2,000 per week just for that with running and boxing on top of that. So if the numbers in the studies are correct, which in the past I thought they were, then riddle me this Batman: How the Hell did I end up having a heart attack? Maybe what I needed rather than just the number 2,200, was some type of exchange scale. For every slice of pizza add 200 extra exercise calories to the 2,200. For every doughnut add 150 and every jelly bean add 10. At the end of the week I could've added all the junk food calories together and found out I needed to exercise 5,000 calories worth. Maybe then I would have eaten a little less of that crap.

In spite of me not fully agreeing with the 2,200 calorie theory of artery protection, the book is good. The subtitle of the book is 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease, and the eight foods look good and tasty. More fruits, veggies and fish, less red meat and junk food. Simple enough. Regardless of the calorie number, I'll continue exercising and try to remember that it takes more than exercise to stay healthy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stress Test

There have been a few stress tests in my life lately. Just like everyone else has. Always something putting the Vise Grips on your mental health. Yesterday was a different type of test though. This one was prescribed by the Cardiologist. In addition to hopping on the treadmill, I received a couple of injections of a radioactive isotope of some sort. It was pretty cool - the technician brought out the syringe in a little lead lined metal box, shot me up and then had me lay down on this scanner.

The whole thing was kind of like a spy movie. After the scanner they hook you up to the heart monitor so you have all kinds of wires attached before they put you on the treadmill. If this was the spy movie, the technician would have threatened me to start talking and make it easy on myself. In reality the guy was real nice and told me to keep walking and he was going to increase the elevation and the speed until we got to 135 beats per minute and then I was going to receive another dose of radioactive stuff - "We have ways of making you talk". Actually they have ways of making you run. My heart rate wouldn't go up to the target rate without kicking the machine up until I was jogging at a pretty good clip. I took that to be a pretty good sign. After the treadmill session they send you off for about three hours and then you come back for another session on the scanner. The technician said I was the prize winner for the day. I stayed on the treadmill longer than anyone else. After looking over the "competition" in the waiting area, being the top dog on the treadmill test probably isn't anything I can brag about but it sure felt good to be able to run a little.

I meet with the Dr. next week to find out the results and I finish up the rehab as well. In the meantime, I'll finish up the Fair Lady and continue wiring up the barn.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Little Black Spot

I dug the welding helmet out this afternoon so I could check out Venus' march across the sun. Not much to see actually, "there's a little black spot on the sun today". The weather was most cooperative, though. Beautiful day today. Temps in the 70's, a little breeze and a few clouds early. Not enough to block the view of the sun later when Venus was visible and an exquisite sunset to cap it off. Since it won't be around again until 2117, probably a good thing I got to see it today.

When I grabbed the welding helmet to check out the sun, I figured I should put in a darker lens prior to viewing. When I opened up the drawer I found a mouse nest made from insulation and the paper wrappers from the lenses. Plus some more little black spots of a different kind. Earlier in the day I was battling wits with a mole in the yard. Not much of a battle actually, all you really need is patience. I don't have much of that but I need to reclaim the yard and now apparently, the shop as well. Between the physical ailments, the barn blowing down and all of my traveling the past two years, things have gotten more than a little out of hand. As a weldor, I'm more than familiar with the old "rust never sleeps" thing. But neither do the varmints, the weeds and the scrub trees. The Missus saw an opossum in the back yard last night and we had a skunk out there the night before. One of the two has been digging up all the bulbs and new plants we've put out. Mother Nature never takes a day off, does she?

While I'm waiting for the official OK to resume my normal activity level, whatever the new normal will be, I'm still catching up on the reading. I picked up a book on how to prevent a second heart attack called: Prevent a Second Heart Attack, of all things. I'm about half way through it and it's an eye opener. The author is a nutritionist and makes the case that most doctors aren't really qualified when it comes to nutrition. Their training is more in diagnosing and treatment. The knucklehead I was going to told me to keep my cholesterol in line by taking the skin off the chicken before I eat it. Since I rarely eat fried chicken, I couldn't see how that was going to help much. If he would have told me to quit eating donuts and cheap sandwich cookies, that might have eliminated some of the trans fats that helped lead up to the grabber. Unfortunately, most physicians just don't deal with the whole person and an individualized approach to their health. Of course I knew eating that crap wasn't good for me. I just underestimated the rate at which the old plaque was progressing by about twenty years. Just like the moles in the yard and the mice in the shop, when it comes to your arteries, eternal vigilance is required.

Take care of yourselves.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wiring the Barn

Just about a year to the day since the barn blew down, I've started pulling wires. I've got all the conduit run except for a short run upstairs for a couple of wall outlets, so I decided to get started today. My biggest concern is the garage doors. With my twenty pound weight restriction still in force, I can't open and close the doors manually, which means open them and leave them open or have the Missus struggle with them. The third option would be to get the electric run to them. Since the openers are all ready to go except for the juice, option number three seems like the way to go. So I got the circuits for the openers, the GFI wall receptacles and the overhead lights run. I need to pick up some supplies to make the connection from the panel to the pole but I can continue on pulling wire and putting in the last couple of pieces of conduit upstairs over the next few days. I work a little/ rest a little, get my exercise in and get something done. Working out pretty good, actually. 

I've still got to finish up the installation on the spiral staircase and the trolley beam and replace a couple of damaged roof sheets. I'd also like to get the balcony installed off the end but getting the electric done is job one now.

The weather looks to be conducive to getting things done the next few days, so I'll keep plugging away. Have a good week.