Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year In Review

It was all good, simple as that.

Plus Column:                                                                    

Added the SV650 and my brother's BSA to the stable.

No issues on the medical front, I'm slowing down a little but still ambulatory. I've got a great part-time job, a roof over my head, I'm eating regular and I managed to read 58 books this past year. I'm blessed with friends and family that both love and tolerate me. I've got enough projects to last me at least 20 years and even though I didn't make a lot of progress on any of them last year, in the big picture that's OK. But I did scratch another item off the bucket list when I saw this:

Minus Column:
- 0 -

Yep, all good. Let's hope 2014 is the same.

Felice Anno Nuovo to one and all.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Ramblings

I'm getting back to my normal sleep patterns and have made it through the pile of newspapers, magazines and junk mail. Had a Christmas get together last evening with out of town folks and another small one tomorrow - sure glad I've still got a couple of weeks vacation left.

I did get a few things for Christmas to keep me occupied during the cold winter evenings.

A couple of jigsaw puzzles and a plastic model kit. My buddy with the Camaro bought me the model. I need to get a tube of glue and some metallic red paint and go to town. The model has a 409 with dual quads. Mine had a 327 with a single carb. Probably the first thing I need to do is get a model oak tree and a chainfall so I can drop the motor in. It used to be every car both of us owned ended up under the tree for an engine swap. We had to schedule our working hours around the weather but we could normally pull one out and have the other one in and running by the end of the same day. Or we'd jerk one out, get it rebuilt and drop it back in a week or two later, bumming rides to work or borrowing Mom's car in the meantime. I'll set up shop down the basement so I can paint and glue without stinking up the house and it'll be safe from the dog and cat.

They're not normally this docile. I might have to fence off an area around the card table to put the puzzles together, in fact.

Here's the tool boxes Surly made for his boys for Christmas. Nice work - all hand tool joinery and the painting of their initials and accents really make them look good. These will be around long after the boys have outgrown the plastic & electronic stuff Santa brought them. And since they hold tools, it's a good start for the boys to someday being craftsmen in their own right. Or if they choose a different path, at least being able to appreciate the work and the love that went into making them.

I'm going to try and organize my digital photos from my trip in the next day or so and get a couple of CD's made. I'll swap them off with my traveling companions and I can post up a few of the trip highlights. Since I shot a few rolls of black & white, I need to mix up some fresh chemicals and get my film developed and get to Menard's and pick up a few things while the 11% discount is going on. In fact, I should probably order the lathe bed extension for the new wood lathe while the 11% rebate is in effect. 

Lots and lots to do but it's all stuff I want to do now. And I'm having fun doing it. What could be better? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

European Jewels

Made it home from my whirlwind tour of Europe. Seem to be suffering from some jet lag but other than that, it's all systems go. It's great to be back home sleeping in my own bed and not living out of the suitcase, packing and unpacking nearly every day.

I went with two of my former colleagues from the high school plus the lady colleague's mother. We took the European Jewels Tour with Cosmos. We started in London, crossed the English Channel into France, then hit Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Paris and back to London for the flight back home. The tour was ten days in length plus a day coming and going. Obviously we covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time but we spent two nights in London, Florence and Paris. In addition to the scheduled tour we had options to sign up for like a trip on the Rhine River and Lake Lucerne.

We did see the European Jewels: London Bridge and the Parliament, the canals of Amsterdam, the Alps, the Palace of the Medici's, the Basilica of Santa Croce and the interior of Brunelleschi's Dome in Florence. We saw castles and Christmas Markets out the wazoo, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and the Palace of Versailles. And the capper of the trip, the Eiffel Tower lit up at night in all its marvelous splendor.

Obviously I've got much to be thankful for this holiday season. I've completed a journey to Europe that had only been a dream for many a year. Fortunately, my health and finances allowed that dream to come to fruition. Mostly it was made possible, however, by a very loving and understanding wife who stayed home and literally kept the home fires burning while I was gone for almost two weeks traipsing around the Continent. Tomorrow I'll be blessed again with the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. Hopefully the rest of you will be as richly blessed.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas Y'all. Made it home safely. I'll post up a few trip highlights after I get caught up.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Paris Eiffel Tower DP

You can poke my eyes out now, I've seen it all.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Lucerne, in the land of the Switzers. Next stop Paris.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


          The tomb of Michelangelo.

        I bow down before the master.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Looking for a retirement home with a nice view.  Munich seems nice.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

National Bill of Rights Day

Today is National Bill of Rights Day, celebrating the adoption into law of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. It's rather short notice but you can go to the National Constitution Center and find some lesson plans if you're a teacher. Or you could go to My Bill of Rights and get yourself a wallet size card listing the Bill of Rights so you can be reminded of the rules the federal government is supposed to be following rather than what is currently happening. Regardless of your politics, you owe it to yourself and your country to be an informed citizen. A democratic republic requires as much to function as designed.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance: which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

I made it easy for you, take a minute to read it. Pay particular attention to Number Ten. That's the one everyone seems to forget about.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lucky Thirteen


Amstelveen y'all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Inside Joke Part Two

Photo From Here

and tells the druggist, "Gimme a ChapStick"

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let's Be Careful Out There


This is hanging up in my Grandpa’s shop.

My worst fear 

I saw this at Meet to Match by way of Handverker. Taking care of the fingers is always a good idea. I've known and/or worked with several people who have missing digits or parts there of. When I first started teaching, the machine shop instructor lost his thumb at the first knuckle in my shop while showing a student how to safely perform a task, ironically enough. I found the thumb under one of the welding machines and they sent the piece and the instructor to the hospital together. I had to perform similar body part retrieval with bits of fingers lost in a band saw, a shear and a log splitter over the years.

When I was in high school I worked part time for a farmer doing various chores around his place. Mostly fun stuff like cleaning the bull pen in the Spring, digging post holes or baling hay. He was a great guy to work for. His wife would bring us drinks and a snack out to the field for a break in the morning and then have a big dinner for us at the noon meal. This was always like a Sunday dinner meal. Pot roast and all the trimmings, including dessert or maybe fried chicken would be on the menu that day. No sandwiches while working for Floyd. After dinner, you'd rest up for a bit and then it was back to work. He was never in a hurry unless it was trying to get the hay in before the rain or something similar. Like most teenagers, I was pretty "rammy" and he was always telling me to slow it down a little, watch my hands, watch my feet, etc.

I was very fortunate to have the chance to work for him. I learned a lot about working safely, whether that was being around large animals or machinery. If you worked around farms back then, you personally knew someone who had had a run in with a corn picker, a PTO shaft or something that had sucked them in and spit them out. In the weld shops it's probably the hand grinder that causes most of the day to day grief. I've done a little hand to hand combat with those over the years myself and they'll give you a good scrubbing. You pinch a 9" grinding disk and business will definitely pick up.

Over the years I've found there are two kinds of people who get hurt in the shop. Those that are new to the trade and don't fully understand the dangers and those that have been around long enough to forget the dangers and get a little careless. Pretty much covers everyone.

Let's be extra careful this holiday season!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Toofus

I finally got my new tooth implant this morning. Only took six months and about ten trips to the dentist but I should be golden for a while now, at least in the dental department. Didn't stop at Harbor Freight or the Jaguar dealership this time by but did notice a few used Jags for sale at an outfit that specializes in foreign car repair. Good looking XJS on the lot. A V12 could be fun. Also, right next door to the Jaguar dealer is a Nissan dealer. The new 370Z is a fine looking little automobile.

Depending on options, they run between $30 to $43K. Not cheap, but a lot of sports car for the money. 

I've always had a hankering for a sports car of some sort. The E Type Jaguar was always the one when I was young. I'd still love to have one but then I'd have nothing left to dream about. Well maybe that Moto Guzzi that for some reason I have an irrational desire to own. I read a little blurb in the Wall Street Journal just yesterday about Clive Cussler owning a 1954 Jaguar XK120. Seems he had one that he bought new and later sold. Traded it for a Nash Rambler, actually. He found another XK120 nine years ago and bought it at the age of 71. I'm only 63, so I've got time yet - probably take me that long to get the VW out of the barn so I'll have a place to park it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Only Jobs Left Are Mine!

Of course, there's a million of those left on the list. However, I worked on the TR3 door over the weekend. The temperatures had risen almost to my comfort zone and after completing the engine block the other day, this was the only thing pending for other people. I replaced the lip along the bottom and tacked it on along with a new piece on the inside bottom. I want to check it out on the car before I weld it up, so I'll drop it off and check the fit and then either bring it home or he can finish welding it. 

The landlord at the gym brought the clock he wants fixed to the gym on Saturday but I need to finish getting my woodshop in order before I see about that. He's in no hurry, so that will work out well for both of us. It's a nice looking old wooden cased clock that someone lost or took off the top section. He has a photograph of what it used to look like that was inside the clock, so I've got something to go by. It's rather ornate, so it'll be a stretch for my woodworking skills but I'd like to try it just to see what I can do - give me something to make on my new lathe. I'll try to work up a scale drawing this winter and figure out what type of wood it's made of and then have at it in the spring or summer after I get the rest of my tools set up.

It's supposed to be fairly warm for a few more days yet, so I'm going to try and get a little more done on the 900 swingarm. I did hit a lick on the VW the other day as well. Nothing big but something. I also got the snowblower out and started up. As you can see, I'm still using the shotgun approach to project completion but I'm moving forward again. I've only got a couple more nights of classes to teach and then I'll be on a month long vacation. Definitely looking forward to that.