Friday, May 31, 2013

Marty Robbins

Going to be in Memphis tonight? You can swing by the Stage and check out a restored stock car that Marty Robbins used to campaign. Autoculture has the details and a bunch of photos. Don't know who Marty Robbins is? First of all, shame on you. Second of all, that should be included in the Common Core standards instead of all the freakin' algebra. Marty sold millions of records and was a no bullshit, for real race car driver. And, as the dude from Autoculture noted, he had the 70's porn start mustache working for him as well. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cup Of Joe

Photo From Here
Seems to be rather timely, what with the IRS, AP News and Benghazi things going on. There have been a few individuals that have really been put through the wringer not only by the IRS but other branches of the government as well. Nothing like abusing the power you've been entrusted with, now is there?

And now for something completely different:

My first choice of beverage whilst computing is normally a cup of coffee, or as it is often referred to, a cup of Joe. Last Saturday's Wall Street Journal had a book review on the life of Josephus Daniels who was at one time the Secretary of the Navy. Daniels "ordered alcohol banned from naval vessels, yards and stations. The offered substitute - a cup of coffee- became disparagingly known as a cup of Josephus Daniels, and as legend has it, this was soon shortened to a cup of Joe." Probably will never get around to reading the book but at least now I know the origin of something that I say on an almost daily basis.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I made it over to school and sandblasted the swingarm for the 900 and got the tubing bent before he closed up shop for the summer. I used to hate guys coming in at the last minute to get things done before school was out while I had to give final exams, clean the shop and keep the boys somewhat under control. So now I'm one of those myself but I really didn't put too much on my replacement's shoulders. I just needed access to the bender.

I stumbled across a really cool Superbike video at Bubble Visor. It's a race at Laguna Seca featuring Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wes Cooley, Dave Aldana - all the guys Surly posted photos of the other day. I got a chance to see all of those guys race back then, mostly at Road America, but also at Daytona, Road Atlanta and Mid Ohio. This should take you there:

If not, go to Bubble Visor and look for August of last year. It'll be there somewhere. The video is about 23 minutes long and a great look at early Superbikes.

Lots happening this Memorial Day Weekend with me. Depending on the weather, some mowing, garden work, traveling and the annual Dead Relative's Tour with Cuzzin Ricky. If I don't get anything else posted here before Monday, enjoy the holiday.

Friday, May 24, 2013

This & That

Almost ran over Momma Woodcock and her clutch when I was mowing the other day. I knew Woodcocks were around here but this is the first one I've seen on my property. As little as the babies are, I would think the nest would be someplace near by. Just one more reason I love living in the country. 

Here's the frame of the firewood rack. I need to get it set in place and then I'll get some sheet metal on the top of it. I'll also put a couple of extra legs on the bottom shelf - I figured it would be easier to cut the legs to the length needed after it's set in place rather than trying to level the ground exactly. Next time someone comes by I'll con them into helping me move it around the back of the barn.

I pulled the swingarm off the 900 yesterday. I was going to head over to the high school to bend up the tubing for the bridge but I had a former student stop by and we chatted quite awhile. He just graduated from Ferris State with a B.S degree and starts a new job in about a week. He showed me his senior project - pretty impressive. Lots of engineering, what with finite element analysis, CAD drawings and the write-up. By the time he left and I ate lunch, I bailed out on going to school but no big thing - heading over this morning. Speaking of no big thing, check out the size of the rear tire in the photo. Puny little thing by today's standards but that was what you got in the late 70's even on a bike as big as the Kawasaki. 

Surly put up a post yesterday with some nice pics of Superbikes from back in the day. You can see they ran some bigger tires on aftermarket mag wheels but still nothing like what you get today. There's also a couple of nice shots there with the bikes leaned over where you can see the swingarm bridge clearly. Lot's of different approaches to going fast on those early Superbikes.

Like this BMW. Check out the mechanical anti-dive set-up on the front end to keep the cylinder heads from grounding. Clever, yes? Real good write up on the bike here. Dirt track racing is experiencing some of the same type of creative thinking these days with a variety of marques coming to the starting lines. Not just the 750 HD like it has been for years. I'm not sure what the figures are but once the English bikes were no longer competitive on the flat tracks, it was pretty much an all Harley show except for a few years when Honda decided they need to show the world they could be the best in anything they chose to compete in. And with guys like Ricky Graham and Bubba Shobert in the saddle, they were. 

Enough talking - off to the fabrication wars. After I pull the tarps off the garden, that is. Ninety degrees on Monday, thirty degrees on Thursday. Craziness.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Adjustable Wench?

I bought some new mower blades the other day and stuck them on yesterday afternoon. Certainly not my first go-around changing blades but because I'm a compulsive reader, I checked out the warning label and the tools required to perform the job: 15/16" socket or box wrench. No adjustable wench.

It's just as well. I don't have a boat wench, or a tavern wench, or any kind of wench, let alone an adjustable wench! I was kind of surprised to see the "R" left out on the label. The blades are premium quality made in the U.S.A. goods. The label was probably made by a young person who relies on the spellchecker too much.  

I do have a couple of trellis sections for my peas to climb up on now, however. I went over to the high school yesterday morning and borrowed a little space in the shop to knock these out real quick like. Not much to them. I bought a couple of panels of concrete reinforcing wire and some 3/8" rebar and tacked them  together. Took longer gabbing with some of the tech guys than it did to actually do the job. As you can see from the photo, I've got vegetables growing in the little squares. Seems to me things are going to get pretty crowded. Let's hope Mel knows what he's talking about.

I've got a few more chores around the house on tap today, depending on the weather. Definitely need to pull the swingarm off the 900 either today or tomorrow, so I can get the tubing bent for that job. Like always, steady by jerks.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

J. S. M.

Surly has the story - check it out here.

When It's Round Up Time Again

It's that time of year again, when the farmer behind me waits for the wind to blow onto my property so he can spray chemicals onto my yard. This year it wasn't as bad as many of the past years but a guy really shouldn't have to be concerned about poisons being sprayed onto his rhubarb, fruit trees and all the rest of the foliage. It's a little hard to tell from the photos but in the top one you can see the top of the pine tree all withered up and curled over. Likewise the oak tree in the bottom photo suffering the effects from the spray. Most everything this year will bounce back, it wasn't blasted too hard, but wouldn't it be nice if the jackass would be a little more responsible?

The farmer does no-till farming, which basically means blast it with nasty-ass chemicals to kill the weeds, wait a couple of weeks and then plant, followed by more chemicals to control the weeds as necessary. I'm not sure what the first spray contains but it's some nasty stuff. The guy who farms my property chop stalks and chisel plows, and the weeds are not near the problem they are on the no-till field. He too uses chemicals but he's very responsible with them. Never so much as a blade of grass killed when he farms. I did a Google search on no-till for those of you unfamiliar with no-till farming practice and came across this. Seems it's not what it's been cracked up to be anyway. It's kind of ironic that I just re-read Gene Logsdon's The Contrary Farmer and here he is again - a voice of reason for sustainable agriculture as opposed to chemical farming. I think the guy behind me probably just does the no-till because he's too lazy to do anything else. This is the same guy who picks his beans in November and corn in December.

As I've mentioned before, my goal after retiring was to become pretty much self-sufficient. The vegan diet rules out animals as a protein source and I'm not going to have any rice paddies out front but I should be able to grow most of my own vegetables and a variety of tree and bramble crops. It would be nice if I could do that without worrying about some irresponsible doofus spraying Agent Orange or whatever the hell it is every spring.

Friday, May 17, 2013

ISTEP Silliness

From the Jackson County Tribune

The editorial cartoon addresses the computer failures that occurred across the State during the recent ISTEP testing. I'd never really thought about this aspect of the testing procedure but a test designed to be given and graded on a computer can't be all that good for the intended purpose of checking the level of a students learning and all the other things that come along with that, such as teacher evaluations and the resultant salary decisions, and the grade the school will receive and all that brings with it. Seems that a test designed to be given by and graded by a computer is best used to measure those things easily graded by a computer not true educational progress.

My buddy Kevin sent me a link to a newspaper article that highlights the views of West Lafayette Superintendent of Schools, Rocky Killian. He's all over the silliness of the testing mania and will have a documentary called Rise Above the Mark out soon. I'm looking forward to seeing the film. Killian has a very common sense approach to education and a very successful one. I mentioned the other day in a post that I felt that the pendulum was starting to swing back the other way. When the film comes out, coupled with this year's testing fiasco and the new State Superintendent of Public Instruction, maybe things will start to improve. We can only hope.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thumbs Up

Photo From Here

That would be Senor Bulto hisself with the hat on talking to the guy sitting on the Metrella. And because I've got a thousand projects in the queue, but I've got a Metrella, it'd be pretty cool to hammer out a dustbin fairing like that and maybe take a stab at Bonneville.

Photo From Here

It would be nothing but righteous running down that black stripe. Aren't really too many things left on the bucket list but Bonneville's one of them. Speed Week is August 10-16 this year. I've got a window of opportunity between summer school and the start of the Fall semester that would allow me to check it out. If I worked it out right, I could make it out a little bit farther west, take a leak to mark my territory, and I'd have been in all of the continental United States. 48 out of 50 ain't too shabby. Then I could come home and start thinking about building something. Something like a 250 Metrella with a dustbin fairing and an expansion chamber that'll make your ears bleed. Oh yeah, buddy. Nothing but righteous. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Funghi & Larry

They said the jaw bone graft material could come from a pig. I was doing a little rooting around out back and even though I didn't come up with any truffles, I did find some mushrooms, or funghi as they say in Italy. These morels are about the only ones I feel safe eating and every year I always get a few that pop up. In the past I would saute them in a little butter and chow down. Maybe this time I'll saute them in olive oil with some garlic and onion and toss them in with some brown rice. Most of the pain and swelling have gone down with the jaw so I can enjoy eating them.

And this is Larry. We picked him up from the sister-in-law last weekend. He's twenty weeks old and as you can tell in the photo, cute as any puppy can be. We got another dog recently but that relationship just didn't pan out. The dog got progressively meaner every day to the point that I couldn't get back into the house if I went outside. The last morning he was there I walked by him and he tried to take a bite out of my ass. Not sure what went wrong there but Larry should be just what we were looking for. Actually we didn't have much of anything in mind but the Missus and I both wanted another dog and this one ought to do the trick.

I've got some yard/garden work to finish up and then it's time to spend a little quality time out in the shop. I've got a machining job to do for my brother and a guy I used to work with has a little something he wants me to make for him. I'm going to try and get to work on the 900 in the next couple of days as well. I want to get the swingarm tubing bent and tacked on. I get that done I'm going to tackle widening the rear wheel. Need to have something to post besides puppy photos!.

Off to the mower. 

Monday, May 13, 2013


I started my first week on vacation with a trip to the dentist and a tooth extraction. So now I've got a big hole where the tooth used to be but rather than being empty, it's filled with the magic bone grafting powder. I didn't realize this before showing up there that the magic powder can come from human, bovine or porcine bone. While I was signing off on the form, the dental assistant said it was from a human cadaver. I looked at the Missus upon hearing that and we both said "Johnny" at the same time, that being the name of my deceased brother who donated his body last year. After numbing me up and pulling the tooth, they ladled the grafting powder into the hole and the dentist then sutured up things to keep the powder in the hole. I go back in a couple of months and then they'll check things out and see about an implant. Pretty impressive really, regrowing the jaw bone. Lots of advances in dentistry in the last fifty years.

The Missus and I spent the weekend in Southern Indiana. The photo above was taken from our room at the Clifty Falls Inn. While there's a nice view of the Ohio River and the rainbow off to the left side, the power plant and the big smoke stack sort of takes a little something away from the beauty of the hill across the river in Kentucky. Regardless, we had a nice visit with some friends of ours from Madison and my sister-in law, where we stopped on the way down and on the way back as it turned out. 

I bought gas down that way for $3.49/gallon on Saturday. When I came home from work on Thursday it was $4.09/gallon, having gone up something like thirty cents overnight. When I went to the dentist most of the stations I passed were all selling regular for over four dollars. I wish someone would explain how gas can jump thirty cents per gallon over night without a tanker pulling into the station and how it can sell for fifty or sixty cents/gallon higher at one end of the state than the other. As far as that goes, why do all the companies raise their prices at the same time? I did see a bunch of the Toyota Prius models going down I-65. In fact, we even got passed by a Tesla on the Interstate. Maybe the oil companies are afraid that the electric and hybrid models are going to limit their profits to just a few million this year so they just decided to spike the prices real quick to boost the profits. The first quarter had just ended. Have to keep the dividends flowing so the stockholders will be happy.

Time for pudding.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Photo From Here
I'm officially on vacation for a month - going to be nice. Got some travel plans and high hopes for getting some work done around and on the shack. Definitely shooting to get something accomplished on both the VW and the 900. I'm scheduled to teach a summer school class in stick welding, so I'll be working enough to  keep gas in the S-Vee and finance some parts for the projects.

I've been writing this blog for five years now. My original intent was to showcase the projects that my students were working on and comment on things of an educational nature in general and vocational  in particular, and anything else that interested me. And to do that at least twice per week. I've actually done that and enjoyed it tremendously. For those of you who read this on a regular basis or even just occasionally,  thanks.

Not sure what the next five years will bring here at Shop Teacher Bob. Now that I'm semi-retired I don't have all the student projects to report on. The news on the education front is mostly bad, at least from the mainstream press. I know personally there are lots of good things going on in education and I feel  good about that. I'm sure I'm often preaching to the choir here but if all the really good teachers weren't so damn busy being really good teachers, they could devote their time and energies to changing the system. Probably have it fixed in a week. As it is, the pendulum will swing back. I'm sure of that. And since I'm still an educator myself, you can count on the occasional comment about the state of education from here.

Lastly, one of these days there will be a post here with a short video clip and you'll be able to see the 900 and/or the VW move under their own power. It's good that an old man still has dreams, isn't it? But like all good shop teachers worth their salt, tinkering is in my blood and with a lighter schedule now, there will be projects to report on. Thanks for allowing me to share them with you.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Let The Good Times Roll

Photo From Here
Yep - that's the stuff right there.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Educational Aggravation

I've never really dealt well with aggravation, especially from the educational establishment. I've jumped through a lot of hoops over the years to get my degrees, get/keep my teaching license and get a salary increase.

In order to get a pay raise after an advanced degree, one needs to take additional course work to qualify for the Plus 15, Plus 30 or whatever pay lane. These are simply credits beyond the normal degree requirement and are solely for a pay increase. For those of us in vocational, those credits can be used for the pursuit of another degree. In my case I was working toward an Associate Degree in  Manufacturing Engineering Technology while satisfying the requirements for a pay raise -the kill two birds thing. I ended up about 4 or 5 classes short of meeting my degree requirement when I made my pay grade requirement, however, so completing the degree was put on hold.

I was working on the degree from Purdue but they no longer offer the Associate Degrees. They are offered by my employer at the community college and after working there at least one year, adjunct faculty are entitled to fee remission. Next year with Obama Care kicking in, I'll be limited to teaching three classes per semester or else they'll have to give me health insurance. I'm good with teaching only three classes. I'm teaching four this semester and even though it's not hard work, in fact it's quite enjoyable, I'd just as soon do a little less. That would free up a little more time to work on projects or maybe finish up my Associate Degree.

With that thought in mind, I made an appointment to see the lady in charge of the manufacturing classes. I had copies of all my transcripts and she gave them a quick once over and then said I needed to apply to the college for admission and have my credits checked out by a lady in the registrar's office. So I went to see her yesterday. Nice lady but here's where the aggravation sets in. In order to have my credits evaluated, I need official transcripts sent to her. My copies are no good. Neither are the official copies that the college already has that I submitted as part of the employment process. In order to see what I need to finish my degree, then, I need to once again obtain transcripts from five different university's and apply to become a student. The nice lady then will enter the course numbers in a computer program that cross references the numbers with the community college numbers and those that don't jive will be sent to someone else to see how they plug in. After that I go back to the first lady I saw to see what I need to get the degree. They offer a distance learning degree which is what I had my eye on, actually, but that would then require a trip to Indianapolis. That's a long way to go just to have someone tell me I need five classes, or whatever the number is, to finish up the Purdue degree or a similar one from the community college. Especially since I don't need the degree for anything other than "might be nice to finish that up someday".

So even though I didn't get my answer as to the number of classes I would need, I did ultimately get my answer. Nope. I'm not going back. Just not worth the aggravation.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Worked on the garden over the weekend. The first order of business was to get the holes drilled in the ends of the lath boards so I could lay out the square foot grids. I made a quicky drilling fixture for the drill press (top photo) and then fastened them down to the raised bed frames. I dug up the back part of the garden plot and got my sweet corn planted in there, planted some things around the perimeter of the new barn and got about half of the squares in the Square Foot Garden planted. I'm going to transplant a few things into the remaining squares and I've kept a few open for later plantings of radishes and carrots. I also got some flower bulbs in the ground along with a few more pine trees. Most of the heavy lifting should be done now. Just water, weed and wait.

As you can tell from the photo, I've got three 4' x 4' Square Foot Garden beds. With the cost of the wood, compost, vermiculite, peat moss, etc., I've got about $200.00 invested. You wouldn't think 48 square foot of garden would be that much money, but yes. The wood for the perimeter of the boxes is cedar, so it should last for many a season. Should be easy to take care of from a weeding and watering standpoint. I eat the hell out of green peppers and at a buck a piece, I should be able to recoup my investment this season just damn near with the peppers alone. 

Looks like the weather's going to be nice this week. Should be able to ride the S-Vee a couple of days. May 8th is Bike To School Day. I would definitely have ridden my bicycle to the high school this Wednesday but I'll have to settle for the other two wheeler now. If it hadn't have been for the heart attack, I might have considered riding the bicycle the 25 miles each way to the college. Bike To Work Day is May 17th, by the way.  I'll be on vacation but I am planning on getting out on a bicycle from now until the weather gets bad this Fall. 

Have a good week - plant yourself some vegetables!

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Photo From Here

Doug Stowe over at Wisdom of the Hands had a post about sensitivity training for the hands prompted by an observation of an acupuncturist at work. This once again brought to mind something I've thought about for years but never really gotten an answer to. I've heard that the old safe crackers used to file down the skin on their fingertips to make them more sensitive so they could feel the tumblers drop when trying to crack a safe. The acupuncturist developed the sensitivity in the fingers by putting a hair in a phone book and then putting pages over the top of it until he/she could feel the hair through ten or eleven pages. Working around hot materials for years, I used to be able to pick up things that the average Joe would would find scalding hot. While that's not so much the case these days, even when I was used to doing a lot of manual work and my hands were pretty rough and calloused, I could feel the softness of someone else's hands when shaking hands in a greeting. How does it happen that your own hands can develop such a rough insulating layer that it's possible to pick up material that's 150 degrees but you can tell in just that brief moment that you shake hands with someone their hands are soft as a baby's bottom?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Springtime is Happy Time

Photo From Here
I've been putting my inspection skills to use at the college by testing certification plates - need to start a jar like this one for the proceeds

The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday so I rode the S-Vee to work. Here's a few random thoughts on the commute:

The engine on this thing is just about perfect for my likes. Redline is 11,000 but you never have to spin it up past 6,000 to get it moving and quickly - lots of torque. In top gear, 4500 rpm equals 60 mph. Runs really nice there. The driveline has a little more slack in it than I'd like. That forces you to roll off the throttle rather than slapping it shut if you want things to go smoothly on downshifts or deceleration. It's easy to over drive the headlight when it's on low beam. Out on the backroads, there are lots of black spots on the road surface, some are patches, some are holes. When you're looking through a bug splattered visor on the helmet and you've got headlights from oncoming traffic to contend with, might be nice to be able to see the road surface. And it's springtime, which means that there's liable to be farm vehicles on the road any time of the day that I might be out. Besides the fact that they go slow and cut a big swath going down the road, they also drag a lot of dirt out onto the highway. I need a new cargo net to secure my lunch bucket on the back - the elastic on mine is about shot. First time I've commuted on a motorcycle in almost twenty years. I'm sure my skills are a little rusty but I'm planning on taking it easy. It's a commute, not a race. I like the bike. For my fifty mile round trip commute, should be lots of fun. 

I made a stop on my commute yesterday and got the results from my blood test. Total cholesterol 134. Everything else looked good as well. In fact the nurse said the numbers looked perfect. Between that and the bike ride, I was smiling all day. Life is indeed good.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


We got ourselves a new dog yesterday morning - Dakota. He's a two year old Border Collie. Looks to be a great addition to the family, as soon as he gets settled in, that is. I came home from work last night and he didn't want to let me into the house - obviously a good judge of character. And he didn't let me get much sleep last night. He woke me up about 12:30 with a bark and a low growl. I wasn't sure if he needed to go out or not, so we erred on the side of caution and went out. Nothing doing, so back inside followed by more growls and the occasional bark. I'm thinking he heard or smelled something outside along with his being away from his previous owner that kept him on edge. I "slept" in the recliner after the second barking go-round and got his blankie from the laundry room. He seemed to be better with someone nearby. Not so much that I got a good nights sleep but he'll get used to us and the surroundings.

Brother Dave's birthday today. That's him holding the bucket circa 1958 on a camping trip to Canada. Happy 65th! See you in a few weeks.