Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Reviews

Photo From Here
I read a couple of interesting books of late. The one in the photo above is all about the Secret Service in regards to how it guards the President, his family and other high ranking figures in our government. It's kind of a kiss and tell book but does say a lot about the character of the people determining the fate of the country. The thing I found most interesting as a new round of presidential candidates comes forward is this quote:

Many of those who run crave superficial celebrity. They are hollow people who have no principles and simply want to be elected. Even if an individual is balanced, once someone becomes president, how does one solve the conundrum of staying real and somewhat humble when one is surrounded by the most powerful office in the land, and from becoming overwhelmed by an at times pathological environment that treats you every day as emperor? Here is where the true strength of the character of the person, not his past accomplishments, will determine whether his presidency ends in accomplishment or failure.

Something to keep in mind in this next presidential cycle.

Struck by Genius

This one is the story of how Jason Padgett was transformed into a mathematical savant and synesthete after a mugging. It's an interesting story, particularly because evidence indicates that all of us have the very same latent potential to become a genius just as Jason did. However, Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBI, normally don't result in the injured party becoming a savant. Having had a little bit of personal experience with a TBI, I can tell you that it did change my personality a bit and nearly thirty years later most of the earlier problems it caused have cleared up but now I'm starting to experience a few other things. Some probably from that one serious incident and some probably due to the fact that I've suffered at least four or five additional concussions over the years. 

Now that the NFL and the NHL are looking into the long term effects of getting your bell rung on a regular basis, hopefully there will be more research and more help available to those who suffer from a TBI, especially those poor servicemen and women who have been injured in the line of duty. The brain's a remarkable machine but it doesn't take too much to throw it out of whack. 

It'll be time to get back out on the bikes pretty soon - wear your helmet!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Photo From Here
Ain't that a beaut!

I got a postcard in the mail from Ron Covell. He's going to be having a metal working workshop in May but it's just a bit too far for me to attend. If I did both Saturday and Sunday, I'd probably have to spend two nights in a hotel or at least get up real early on Saturday morning. That's a bit much right now. Surly and I did his aluminum workshop a few years back and it was time well spent. Workshops are $190/day and you get your money's worth in skill development and inspiration. He also sells round over dies for bead rollers. I'd like to get a couple of different sizes. The dies cost $80/set and bushings to fit the Harbor Freight bead roller like mine are $20.00. You'd be hard pressed to make them for that money. I don't really have any need for them right now but I have in the past. If I ever get going on some of the things I've got planned, they'd be nice to have,

I did get the ram for my press brake cut off the other day at work. I should be able to get it all welded up this weekend. Might be warm enough to get a little paint on it Monday. Going to work on the clamps for the boat project the next few days as well. 

Time to get back after it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Old Stuff/New Stuff

Saw these falls on one of my bike trips.

Glenn Curtiss - One of my personal heroes.

Saw both of these here

On the education front, lots of news about the current and continuing shortage of skilled welders. The current American Welding Society e-mail has gleaned several articles from papers around the country addressing the problem. In addition to the growing need for pipe welders due to the oil boom, skilled welders are also needed in industry and construction due to the retirement of older tradesmen. An article cited from the NY Times dealt with the shortage along the Gulf but several other articles mentioned similar problems here in the Midwest. The answer, as always, shop class - primarily high school and community college, but also private trade schools and apprenticeship programs.

Even though the AWS is forecasting a shortage or over 200,000 welders in the next few years, here's the solution for you. Seven of the nine welders my replacement at the high school entered in a recent welding contest. Out of 43 total entrants, these seven placed in the top ten. Not too shabby, I'd say. They're also earning college credits along with their high school diplomas. I'm assuming the State is still offering the Plus 40 with a technical certificate diploma. If his students meet the academic requirements, I could get them certified to qualify for the higher level diploma if they had the welding skills to go along with it. I need to swing by the high school and offer my services and remind Dave about the scholarship program his students are eligible for.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Crime Scene

Might be time to just give up on the idea of ever becoming a chicken rancher. Something dug under the fence the other night and got the last of them. The Missus saw a fox out along the tracks not too long ago - thinking maybe that's what did it. 

And to add to the list of current annoyances, some butt head hacked my credit card so he could talk dirty on the telephone. At $45.00 per call, I can see why he wanted to put it one someone else's dime. Always something.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Press Brake

I welded up the pipe for the press brake attachment the other day at work and then finished the machining at the house. I need to shorten the top up a bit yet. The support channels on the press move in six inch increments and I want to have ram only about an inch above the vee block with the ram fully withdrawn so the length of the ram has to be right on the money or you'll have to be pumping the hell out of the jack. I figured I would just cut the pipe to the proper length when I had everything set but looking at it, might be better to shorten up the ram. I don't need the old mounting plate on there any more and by doing it that way it would probably look better and lighten things up a bit as well. I'll stare at it a day or two and decide which way I want to go. Either way, I should have it finished up next week and then I can get some paint on it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Real Whitworth

Photo From Here

If you're going to work on your Jag, you need a set of Whitworth tools. Or your BSA or Frances Barnett for those of us who can't afford the car of their dreams.

Surly sent me an e-mail that he had come across a set of Whitworth wrenches right after I posted that I had cobbled one up. I picked the set up the other day and it appears to be a tool kit mash-up from British motorcycles. A couple of them are marked Triumph and a few of them are branded Spearpoint. They're a little rough but there's probably every size I'll need for the BSA or the Fanny B. So I'm good to go on the wrench front.

I got the pipe for my press brake attachment collared up the other day. It still needs a little more weld on it but I'm going to try and get that done today. After that I can bore it out to fit the pin on my press, and put a couple of set screws in it. 

I want to get the table saw done and moved up to the top of the barn but the half finished boat is in the way. I worked on that a bit to see what it would take to finish putting the side boards (strakes?) on it. Looks like mostly time and a few more clamps. I bought six cheapie clamps awhile back with the intention of modifying them for the job. Looks like I'm definitely going to need all six in addition to the "F" clamps that are on there in the photo. Menards was out of the size flat stock I need, so I'll check the hardware store on my way to work next time by.

Even the forty degree days seem like heaven now. I'm able to walk out to the shop or the barn and just go to work without freezing my ass off anytime I get a free moment. Really need to get out there and build/fix a few things.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sorta Whitworth

Had a good day yesterday. Went to the gym, washed the wife's car and the little clown car, and then I drilled and countersunk the holes in the angle so I could proceed with the out-feed table on the table saw.

That's the laminate I'm going to use. It's 3/4" thick so I'll have to shim it up a bit to come flush with the top of the saw table but that's no biggy. I'll pick up a few 2x4's to frame it out with and I'll be cookin'. 

If you look at the top photo, you'll see a do it yourself Whitworth wrench. I bought an El-Cheapo 12mm and filed it to fit the nuts on the BSA carb studs. I've got a separate tool box for bike tools left over from when I was racing, so I'll throw it in there rather than in the drawer with the metric stuff. I should probably cut the box end off to make it more obvious that it's a non-standard size.

It sure was nice to be out doing things. Since the Missus is looking at several more months of chemo and all that that entails, I'm going to have to take advantage of any free time I've got to work on things. It's a lot easier to get out of the house when it's 50 degrees and sunny than it is -5 with the wind blowing sideways, so that'll help. Everything in its own time.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wasted Week


Saw this at The Vintagent. I love that sidecar. One of these days, definitely going to have to build myself another one. Not until things quiet down around here a bit, however.

Even though I was on vacation this past week I got nothing done on the project front. I did get my taxes done, took the Missus to the doctor, worked half a day at the lab, made it to the gym three days and ran a few errands. Next week's going to be similar - back to work, take the Missus for round 2 of chemo, take the clown car in for a recall, and who knows what else. Thank goodness I'm only working two days per week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Photo From Here

Some Indiana things here today. The photo above from a lady in Indy. The photo below from  a man someplace close to there.

Photo From Here
It's a 1957 HD 165cc flat tracker. I've got a '63 stocker in the barn. Also from that site the news that the Indy Mile will be July 10th this year instead of being run in August when the Moto GP comes to town. Not Indiana news but the DuQuoin race is back on the schedule again for the 4th of July. I drove down there for that one a few years back but the feature got rained out. I did get to see a few hot laps. I'd like to give it another try sometime.

Finally warmed up a bit with more still to come. Picking off the list of things to do around the shack while I'm on break. Got the inside of the little clown car all spit shined, squashed the aluminum cans to recycle, took Surly to the lumber yard to pick up some material for a job he's working on and picked up a piece of 3/4" particle board with the laminate on it to make the surround/out-feed table for the table saw as long as I was making the trip. I'll work on getting that finished up as the schedule allows now. 

The Golden Gloves in Indy is on once again. Jimmy's got one guy going down this week. He's a young guy - tough, but it's his first fight. Hope he does well. TCM had Elvis in Kid Galahad on yesterday. Like most of his movies it was pretty corny but the fact that I've been involved a little bit in the fight game made it more interesting. They showed Charles Bronson wrapping Elvis's hands before his first fight and there must have been someone involved with the movie who knew something about it. Nice professional job on the wraps.

And totally unrelated to anything here today, I ran across a post about how golf has fallen out of favor and how your time could be better spent learning a trade or spending time with your family rather than golfing or some other similar pastime. Interesting slant on things. Only about a five minute read. You can find it here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Thinking Green

First of all, the new gadget on the right. The Missus has been diagnosed and is under treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She's had to undergo several surgeries during the last few months, a couple of which were pretty invasive. She's had her first round of chemotherapy and is doing very well (the old girl's a real trooper). Apparently, she's had this for several years but it's a very slow growing cancer. Because of that, it's also one that responds to treatment well. I didn't realize it but there are different colors for all the various cancers, not just pink for breast cancer. I'll keep the lime green ribbon up there until at least she's in the clear again.

Next up: Medicare. I signed up this week and this is going to save me a ton of green. My monthly Medicare supplement policy will be about the same as the amount my regular insurance increased this week - Thanks Obama. Only three months of full premiums for the Missus and myself and one month for just me left. Come September I should be able to spring for some new wheels.

Maybe a new Challenger in Sublime Green, with the Hemi of course.

Surly posted this one:

Couple of superbike replicas with Team Green in the background. I followed the links back and found this:

This is the shifter set-up on the Lawson Replica above. I've got a similar plate for my 900 but it uses the stock cable operated clutch release gizmo rather than the hydraulically operated one in the photo. Also my set-up was a bit different for the shift lever pivot. Need to keep this one in mind. 

Last, but certainly not least, it's supposed to hit 50 degrees next week. Hallelujah! It's about damn time. The snow cover will be gone and the grass will be greening up soon thereafter. Another record cold night last night, by the way - zero degrees! 

I'm on break next week and there will be some decent weather. The Missus is doing better, I'll be able to get back in the shop and tinker on a few things and I'm lucky enough to be able to count my blessings, of which I have many.

Think Spring - Think Green!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Travel As A Political Act

My buddy Kevin and I went to see Rick Steves last evening at the WTTW studios in Chicago. The Missus donates all the time so there's at least something decent on television. As a thank you gift she got two tickets to see Rick Steves, the guy who travels all over the world, films the travels and then shows them on public television for all of us poor schmucks who can't afford to go to those places.

The talk was shorter than the time required to get there and home again but was well worth the drive. The topic was Travel As A Political Act. I was expecting more of a instructional talk - pack light, money belt - sort of thing rather than the politics of travel, but I really enjoyed the presentation. He's a very good public speaker. Passionate about his subject, well prepared and uses humor well to keep the mood light when discussing some fairly touchy subjects.

The nice folks at WTTW put out a little spread for us prior to the presentation - even had grilled eggplant sandwiches for us vegetarians, Probably should have expected that from public television people. Seems the politics tend to run toward the left a bit with public television and NPR. But that's OK. We'd all be a little poorer without them. And even though you have to put up with the pledge drives, still don't have all the damn commercials and you get some really good programming.

All in all a great night. Got out of the house, saw a great presentation and spent some time catching up with Kevin. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Time To Move?

Here's a shot taken out the back window yesterday morning. March 1st and a couple more inches of snow on the ground with more to come. This follows the coldest February on record. We hit -10 on Friday night/Saturday morning. The previous record for that date was -4 set way back in 1884. 

I've been working on my taxes and computed that we put in 2200 miles taking the Missus back and forth for medical care last year. It's about 25 miles to the college and the hospital is an additional 8 miles north. Depending on her health, or mine for that matter, and how long I plan to keep teaching, it might be time for me to consider downsizing the operation and find us a little shack closer to the school and medical treatment. Or just quit teaching and sit around here and work my way through the pile of books I've got during the long cold winters. Or maybe just be thankful for what I've got and keep shoveling.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Laser Saw Guide

For good or evil, if you subscribe to do-it-yourself  type magazines, sooner or later you'll end up getting a packet of post cards for products you may or may not be interested in. Normally I just toss them unopened right into the garbage can but for some reason I opened up the last package and thumbed through them and found the miter saw laser guide from LaserUS. Price was only $9.95 including shipping when I followed the link on the card (, so I ordered one. The price on the website is $24.95. I've got no idea how well it will work or how long it will last but for less than ten bucks, why not give it a shot. 

Howz about that - it works! It runs on three little watch batteries and turns itself on automatically. Even came with three spare batteries. If it works for any length of time, well worth the ten bucks.