Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New York State of Mind

Busy, busy weekend. I went to Belfast, New York to the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame annual induction ceremony. They were featuring trainers this year and yours truly was honored with special recognition for having trained there last September and the coach/teacher thing. I was both humbled and honored to accept the recognition. I did feel a little out of place, however. There were four former world champions and several former and current title contenders in the crowd. The little contribution I've made to the boxing game doesn't really amount to that much but I accepted the award on behalf  of myself and all the other guys who are or have been doing the same thing. Jimmy gave me a nice little introduction and Scott Burt from the BKBHF presented me with a pair of Indian clubs with the Hall of Fame logo inset into them.
It was very nice and I really appreciate the recognition for what I've done. I've now had my 15 minutes worth of fame.

We left for Belfast Friday morning for the long drive and even though my ass was getting sore about the time I was crossing into Pennsylvania, it was also about the time my retirement became official. That in itself was enough to put a smile on my face the whole weekend. After the induction breakfast on Saturday morning, Jimmy and Tim "The Bleeder" from our gym put on a little boxing exhibition for the crowd with Tim living up to his Bleeder moniker. Belfast was also celebrating their Irish heritage with their Festival Days. Jimmy's band, Double Vision, played for the street dance and volunteered their equipment for the talent contest. For a small town there's no shortage of talent.

Sunday morning Livingstone Bramble and Billy Backus, both former world champions, narrated fight films of their world title fights. Absolutely incredible that two former world champions showed up in this little town and  people had the opportunity to watch the fight footage with them and ask questions about the fights. No big crowd to contend with. There were photos available that they were happy to sign for you. (Myself, I had all the heavy hitters autograph my invitation to the event. That's going to get framed.) Both of the former champions were extremely nice and seemed to feel at home in Belfast. That town just seems to have that effect on people.

There was also the 5K Ramble with Bramble run/walk on Sunday morning. Tim's goal was to beat Bramble in the run. He accomplished that but Monday he was so stiff and sore it took him about 5 minutes to get out of the truck every time we stopped. I was the male "race walk" winner. There was only one fast walker in the group and she and I walked together for the last half of the race. It felt good to be able to compete again, such as it was. My time was about a minute quicker than the one I did right before I had the heart attack. I walked about as fast as I could go without breaking into the silly race walker mode. I got a chance to see Annie at the race, which was nice. She was the young lady who ran with Jimmy last September when we were training there. She's training for another marathon in October, bless her pretty little heart.

Sunday afternoon was spent at Pollywogg Holler. Double Vision played all afternoon and everyone had a great time. The weather was great, the music was great, the people were great. It looks like the band will be back next year again.

Tim and I slept in the barns again this year. I only heard one unexplainable noise this year, unlike all the crazy things we heard in September when we were there. Apparently the ghosts are comfortable with us spending  nights in the barns. This year they added a statue of William Muldoon to the grounds to complement the statue of John L. Sullivan that's there. If you are a boxing fan, you owe it to yourself to show up out there in Belfast for induction weekend.

Tim and I headed out early on Monday for the ten hour trip back home. We were pulling the U-Haul with all the band equipment so now I can add Roadie to my resume. The trip was certainly one for the books and I'm extremely grateful to Jimmy and Scot Burt for my special recognition. The people of Belfast were great, like always, and the boxers were an inspiration to all of the young fighters like Tim.

On a completely different note, if any of you weldors out there are looking for a teaching job in the Midwest, I got this in an e-mail this morning: Byron Ernest, the principle of Emmerich Manual H.S. in Indianapolis, is looking for a full-time welding instructor.  If you’re interested, contact him at bernest@emmerichmanualhs.org . 

More Belfast coverage to come.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Everyone's Doing It

I stumbled across these at Race Cafe the other day. Looks to be a motorcycle photo site but he's putting together a hybrid KZ with updated suspension front and rear rather than a 1970's version like I'm planning on. 

I took a run up to the bike shop the other day and didn't exactly hear what I wanted to hear. When I explained to them what I was building and what I was looking for, I got the "that's not really what we do here" look. I'm going to start working with what I have and as I need specific things, I'll give them a try again.  He told me to put a list together and he'd see what he could do, so there's hope.

While cleaning out the school shop the other day, I ran across a can of paint that I had and the paint job I'm looking for clicked. While I'm a long way from paint, it always helps to have a vision of the finished project in your mind while working. I've got  a few details to work out but basically a 1970's Japanese hot rod motorcycle with a drag bike stance. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Diamond in the Rough

There it is. The classic UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle). This one is kind of a bitza. I got the frame because it had been in an accident that resulted in a bent neck. I machined up a new neck and if I remember correctly, I raked it a couple of degrees when I put it back straight. This was also the frame that I built the sidecar for so it still has the mounting lugs. The front forks are off a Suzuki GS 1000. They were fitted with air caps from the factory which was the latest technology at the time. Of course that was something like thirty years ago now. The engine was on a go-kart when I got it. Big go-kart with some cat tires on the back and aircraft wheels on the front. Scary. The rear swingarm is one that I fabbed up out of 4130 rectangular tubing.  I used to make a lot of extended swingarms for dragbikes but they didn't pivot. They used struts in the back. I still have a pair of struts that will fit this thing if I decide to go drag racing again.

Starting from front to rear: I need to get a new front master cylinder. I have a new chrome headlight. I need to tack the brackets on to mount that up. I bought some cutsey-wootsey little turn signals for both the front and rear. Need to figure out how I'm going to mount them on the front. The engine needs a going over. I've got a block from a 1000 with pistons, Allen head bolt kit and a gasket kit already. So valve job, go through the carbs and probably new clutch plates. I've got a spiffy Kosman clutch release mounting plate that I've managed to loose a couple of pieces for, so I need to make those up. I made up some aluminum side covers. They'll get fastened on with Dzus fasteners, so tack those on the frame. I have the mounting plates and fasteners. Make a seat mount, weld the rear turn signal brackets on (those are ready to go), weld the mounting brackets on the swingarm for the chain guard (those too are ready to go). Finish the muffler. New rear caliper, mounting plate and torque/stay rod. I've got  a new master cylinder with the brake pedal already attached. Sort the wiring and paint.

So it looks like there's a lot to do, and there is. Nothing I can't handle, however. I've got an engine stand that has a head specifically for that motor. My buddy that piddles with the little Italian bikes will grind the valves for me. As I stated in the last post,I'm looking at mostly labor and I should have the time to devote to it now. 

The old 900/1000s were fun bikes to ride. This one will have a flat bar and rearsets, and with the raked frame will sit nice and low. Compared to a lot of the new bikes, this thing seems small by comparison. My brother's Concours seemed huge when I sat on it and it was the 1000cc version, not the 1400. Part of that was probably the 7.5 gallon gas tank and all the plastic that surrounds everything. The wheelbase is probably close to the same with my 900 being stretched a little.

I'm ready to start on it. If I can devote a couple of hours per day on most days, it shouldn't take me that long. It's all about staying focused. It's been awhile since that's happened, however.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Did a little work yesterday on the windmill the wife drug home. Trying to finish a few odds and ends before I turn over my keys at the end of the week. The bottom part I straightened out about two weeks ago and I cut the pieces for the vanes at the same time. I finished welding everything together and now all it needs is the bearing on top that allows it to stay oriented to the wind and a little paint. It takes an inch bearing rather than a metric, so I'll probably have to order one. No biggy. I'll do that in the next couple of days. I've got a couple of other things I've been waiting to order until I had an order that was more than the shipping cost.

I dug out a few parts for the 900 yesterday, as well. I'm thinking that's the one to work on - and keep working on until it's finished. There's a shop that sells parts and works on bikes not too far from here, a couple of them actually. One deals mostly with choppers but the other one is more performance oriented. It's supposed to be close to 100 again on Wednesday, so maybe I'll take a run up that way and get a price on some brake parts and a couple of other things. It's time to get the show on the road.

I'm heading over to school again this morning and push the broom around a little bit. Just about ready to turn it over to the new guy. I'll have to see if I can come in and be like the roving reporter. That way I can still promote what the boys are doing here on the blog. Should be no shortage of progress on my own stuff, though.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Been busy as hell trying to get things moved out of school and cleaned up. I got a couple of guys to help me move my boat from school to the new "boatshop" in the top of the new barn. Thanks fellas!

It looks like the school is going to hire the guy who filled in for me after the grabber. That's a relief. The shop will be in good hands, I can slow down a little on getting the rest of the crap out of there, and I should be able to sneak in the back door once in a while if I need to use the shop for something. That should be the best of both worlds - access to the tools without having to put up with the students. I always did say that teaching shop class would be the perfect job if it wasn't for having to put up with those darn kids.

Saw this Moto Guzzi on Craigslist the other day. Low miles, good price and close to home. I'm tempted to give the guy a call. However, since I'm going to be retired, I really don't have any reason not to finish a couple of my bike projects that I've got going. I was working in the shop this morning and I thought I heard the 900 calling my name. I really need to sit down out there in the shop with a cup of coffee and put in a little "think time" on prioritizing all the projects. The 900 needs to be completed. I need to buy some brake parts but mostly it needs labor not cash. Finishing that one would be cheaper than buying something and it would be a project done. A few more days of cleaning up at school and letting the retirement idea sink in and I'll tackle something. 

The four hours on, four hours off schedule has been working out pretty well for me. I get some things done in the morning, then get out of the heat in the afternoon and then finish the day with a few chores/exercise in the evening after the sun drops down behind the trees. I'm catching up on the projects around the shack. I changed a couple of bicycle tires the other day and I took a good hard look at the bicycle chopper. I'm still toying with the idea of putting a motor on it. Probably be better off getting the Rapido running and use that for putting around. Definitely need to sit down and draw up the "official retirement plan and schedule". I can disregard it as soon as something else catches my eye, but at least I'll have a plan. 

Have a good week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gone Like a Cool Breeze

See that envelope in the photo? That's the one I put my retirement pension paperwork in this morning and mailed it off to Indy. It's official, I've retired. I taught welding and a few other courses for 36 years at two different school corporations. Eighteen years each, as it worked out. I'll hand in my letter to the boss tomorrow and I'll make my last day the end of next week - that'll give me time to get my stuff out and finish up a couple of jobs prior to turning in my keys. 

It's been a good career and I've met a lot of nice people along the way. I've made a positive difference in a few lives, like most teachers, and probably more than I'll ever know about. I've made some mistakes and I had a few students get away from me. I learned early on, however, you can't save them all. I've attended their weddings, visited them in hospitals and jail, and been to a few funerals. I've never had the child of a former student in class but changing jobs in the middle of the career probably was responsible for that, and I've never seen one of my students graduate.  

The students of today are basically the same as they always were - they reflect what's going on in society. The fashions and music are much different today than they were in 1976. Probably a good thing for the fashions, not so much for the music. High school kids still want to be accepted by their buddies and are still testing the boundaries to see what they can get away with. The work ethic today isn't what it once was, however. Once again, a reflection of today's society. There are still a lot of good kids coming into shop class and a lot more who could profit from the experience if they were to venture in. 

Will I miss going back for the start of the new school year? Not only no, but Hell no. With what I've gone through this Spring and with all the changes in the educational system the last couple of years, and with what's to come, it's definitely time to go. The most compelling reason to go, however, is the beating school teachers have taken from the politicians and in the news media. The governor says we're the "privileged elite" and the rest of the politicians are ragging on the unions and tenure and the need for more charter schools and all the rest of it. But say what they will, that's not me. They can take their cheap shots at those remaining good souls who are carrying on the good fight, but I'm done with it all. From now on, I'm a craftsman. Back to where I started. It's all about progress on the projects now.

Yeah, Baby, you cain't catch me. But if you get too close, I'll be gone, like a, coooooool breeze.

Rock on, people.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Handverker had a bunch of photos from the Millers at Milwaukee event from about a week ago. I had no idea that this existed but I should definitely look into the Harry Miller club. Miller was an automotive genius. He's the one responsible for all of those Offy's that ran at Indy and in midget and sprint cars for years and years. It would have been great to see all those cars at the Milwaukee Mile but to get a chance to see them running out on a racetrack? Had to be like heaven. Check out the photos. Lots of beautiful machinery.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Free at Last!

I went to the doctor yesterday and got some good news. He cut me loose - no surgery, no restrictions, no appointments for six months. Now I've got to make the retirement decision. Not much of a decision to make, actually. I really don't want to go back. I need to run the numbers one more time but I'm about 99% on packing it in. I was planning on going in a year anyway. 

The photo shows my breakfast this morning. Blackberries fresh off the fence line, shredded wheat and soy milk. I'm not sure how or even if, this vegan thing will work out for me, but it's the only thing I've come across that holds any promise of reversing heart disease. Time magazine had a one page interview with Scott Jurek in this week's issue. As a runner, I had heard of him prior to this but I didn't realize he was a vegan. Obviously, if you can run 165miles in a 24 hour period, a vegan diet is not limiting your athletic performance. He has a book that just came out that I'd like to read called Eat & Run. Might shed a little light on some of the diet questions I have. It's hard to find honest answers out there. It seems everyone has an agenda or they're just repeating what they've heard from someone else who has an agenda.

A couple of years ago Jamie Oliver did a thing on TV about changing our diets here in America. It seems there was a lot of resistance to change and trying to comply with USDA requirements made it almost impossible to serve healthy meals in schools. As a school teacher, I quit eating most everything they had to offer several years back. However, there always seemed to be donuts or something sweet in the teachers lounge and most every get together had some type of snack offered up. I'm not blaming my heart attack on the school food. But they are certainly complicit in the heart attacks of thousands, if not millions of others by continuing to serve unhealthy food, dropping physical education classes and not educating the students in how to prepare and eat healthy meals.

I stopped by Purdue Calumet the other day and made arrangements to have my metabolism checked. I've had it checked several times over the past few years as a way to track my fitness level and the efficiency with which my body converts calories. Now that I'm free from restrictions, the test will establish a base line and I can track my progress on the road to heart disease reversal. Besides wanting to stay healthy, I'm very curious as to what can be accomplished by someone who makes some lifestyle changes. Time will tell. Hopefully, I'll have a long time to keep reporting back in. 

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Making Some Headway

It finally cooled off for a couple of days. It's supposed to head back towards 90 the next few but if that's all the hotter it gets, I can handle it. I was never really a fan of 100 degree days but I used to deal with them a little better than I do now. I spent most of the day outside on Monday and it was just a great summer day.

Just because I'm feeling spunky
The doctor's office called finally and I've got an appointment set up. Since I've changed my diet my blood pressure has been falling. When you couple that with the medication, it was a bit too low. The nurse said I can cut the dosage by half. From what I've been reading, I shouldn't need it at all pretty soon. I'm anxious to see what effect the diet has been having on the cholesterol reading. So far, the changes I've been experiencing with the new diet are exactly as predicted by the authors of the books I've read. After only a couple of weeks both blood pressure and cholesterol numbers should see noticeable improvement. So far the only side effect has been some gas, but since I haven't been out in public much, what's a few good, healthy farts going to hurt?

I'm looking at about a month until school starts. I went over this morning and drug some of my stuff home. If I return to work or I retire, either way I need to get my junk home. Most teachers just need a cardboard box to clean out their desk when they leave. I need a crane. Probably what I need to do is have an auction and get rid of about half of my stuff and get a dumpster for the rest. At least with the improved weather, I am making some headway.

So there it is. I'm feeling good, the weather's good and things are getting done. Just like it should be.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I've Had Just About Enough

of this hot weather. It's even hotter here today than it has been for the last few days. I was looking for the big cool down they were forecasting - only 95 or so. Besides the heat beating me up, the washing machine quit working and my old dog Grace died. I knew she was about at the end. In fact, if we had had a winter like we normally do, she probably would have gone then.

She was with us for 15 years almost to the day. We had another dog, Bess, that came with us when we moved in here but she was a runner. As soon as she got about three steps on you, she'd bolt. One day she took off and made it the half mile to the highway before I could catch her. I managed to catch up with her right after she got hit in the head by a big RV bumper and died in my arms. Three weeks to the day later, I looked out the window and saw a dog that was the spittin' image of Bess out in front of the barn. It was pretty spooky. Gracie was just a big pup then - probably no more than about three months old - and probably had been dumped by somebody. The weather had been almost as hot as it has been here lately and the poor thing was just about used up. She laid under the porch for a few days doing nothing but drinking water and eating a little. Once she got back on her feed, we spent a lot of time together hiking around the area and running chores together in the truck.

She was a big, shaggy thing that didn't like being in the house. I fixed her up with a doghouse inside the old barn but if it was snowing out, she'd curl up and sleep next to the door with snow covering her back. When the old barn came down, I fixed her up with a lean-to with the dog house under it behind my machinery shed. Unless it was storming, she'd still sleep outside. When she was in the old barn I went out there one morning and Gracie was sound asleep and so was a coyote about three feet from her. Not much of a guard dog, but we loved her.

RIP Gracie

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th

Happy 4th everyone.

My "Saddle Pal" stopped by the house the other day on his touring rig. He took the bike all apart this spring and powder coated the frame and added the wooden fenders to both the bike and the trailer. The bags front and rear are new as well. The boy's a real die hard. It was 90 something the other day and late morning when he stopped by and he still had about 20 miles to go before he got home.

It's supposed to be around 100 degrees today and tomorrow - more records to be set. I've already gotten my bike ride in for the day. Just a measly four miles but the more I read about exercise, the less I feel the need to exercise to the extremes that I once did. More is not always better. I also read how your personality type can contribute to heart disease. Type A personality, sense of isolation - lots of intangibles. While hard to scientifically quantify, it goes a long way towards explaining why I ended up having a grabber. This information would have been much more helpful than the doctor telling me to take the skin off the chicken. Especially when I rarely ate fried chicken.

We spend billions of dollars on medical care for heart disease alone in this country every year. If there was someone each of us could go to who would listen to our needs, concerns and wishes, and then set up a life plan dealing with good nutritional advice, exercise needs, mental health issues - all the things that impact our health and happiness - we'd all be healthier and the medical costs would nosedive. Maybe every doctor's office should have a nutritionist and a psychologist in the same building. You could just stop in and get a mental tune up, get a couple of new healthy recipes or find a support group for whatever's ailing you. Now that I think of it, you'd probably need a lot more mental health professionals. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - never been more true.

Stay cool
Be safe

Monday, July 2, 2012

Welding History

Photo From Welding Mentors
I stumbled across a site that's all about the history of welding. It's at weldinghistory.org, appropriately enough. With all the hot weather, when I'm not riding the recliner, I've been wasting some time on the computer. Surprisingly enough, there's some interesting things out there. I'm not bored enough to start my own Facebook account yet but I can amuse myself for a little while with things, automotive, motorcycle and photography related on the www. I found the welding history site at Workshopshed. That site has lots of welding, metalworking, foundry, etc. links there. If you too have time to kill, there's plenty to keep you busy there for a while.

Surly came down yesterday so we could chat a little and check out some material for a job he's thinking about. Most of our chat was centered around the subject of diet. Not a weight loss diet, necessarily, but a healthy, long term one. I've been doing quite a bit of reading about heart healthy diets and those that are supposedly capable of reversing atherosclerosis. Most everything I've read points to a vegan diet with a regular exercise regimen. However, there seems to be strong evidence for the exact opposite with the Paleo diet and other meat and potato type diets. No one seems to be recommending cheap sandwich cookies, highly processed foods and large quantities of high fructose corn syrup, though. So maybe it's as simple as that. If they sell it at the Starvin' Marvin or the White Hen, don't eat it. Lots to ponder on this subject.

Looks like it's going to be in the 90's all week - 98 tomorrow. At least we got some needed rain over the weekend. I feel sorry for those poor folks on the East coast that are without power in this heat and humidity. I think "Global Weirding" has arrived.