Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Beezer & Boxing

I'm diggin' the BSA jersey. $40.00 American from Iron & Air. Lots cheaper than the HD jersey I saw at the museum this summer. There's been no progress on the BSA here, unfortunately. Surly came up with a plan for the sidecovers but I haven't made a move in that direction.

I did manage to rid the house of a couple of bats, though. I had one in the bedroom a week or so ago - woke me up about 4:30 in the morning circling the bed. A few days later I went down the basement to look for something and one buzzed my head. The one in the bedroom wasn't too bad. Not the first time we've had a bat in the house during the summer months. The one down the basement was a little spooky, however. Kind of close quarters down there and no easy way to shag it outside. Like the raccoons in the shop, I've got no idea how they get in. I'll do a good walk-around this fall when I do my winterizing and see if I can spot anything.

I had to go north to get my car serviced yesterday so I stopped in for a haircut from my old boxing coach. We've got a guy coming in to our gym that used to box with him a bit way back when. Actually, I think he started about the time I stopped. Anyway, we had a nice chat catching up a bit. He's ten years older than I am but he still looks good - works out every day and still cutting hair. It's amazing how teachers and coaches influence your life choices. Forty years later and I'm still involved with boxing. Never would have predicted that.

Monday, August 28, 2017

One for Me

"A Message From The Hopi Elders"

"This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart,
and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do,
our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we've been waiting for."

- The Elders Oraibi,
Arizona Hopi Nation

From Here

I've been struggling a bit of late with all of what's been happening in the news. Lots of craziness with no real apparent reason to it all. "The time of the lone wolf is over" they say. I'm thinking it's more like the time to string the concertina wire around the perimeter and just hunker down for as long as it takes. However, I like the last sentence: "We are the ones we've been looking for." There's some comfort there, or at least some resolve. I'm not really complaining about things in my life. I'm just having a hard time comprehending the big picture of who's stirring things up and what the end game is.

The poem could also be a metaphor for what's going on in Houston right now. Man, those poor people are getting hit hard. I heard the mayor's statement the other day about sitting tight and riding it out and I figured it wasn't going to be all that bad. Boy was he ever wrong! Four feet of rain in a matter of two - three days. Stay strong people. If anyone's tough enough to come through a disaster like this, it's Texans.

On a happy, non-depressing note, I did a bike ride Saturday night. I rode with Surly and the two grandsons on a 15 mile ride. The ride started at 11:00 PM, so with the ride, a sag stop and loading up the bikes and delivering them back to Surly's house, I didn't get home until about 2:30 AM Sunday morning. I wasn't so sure how the youngest boy was going to handle it, but he was a real trooper. We were just about the last ones in but somebody had to be. It was a fairly decent night for a ride. We got a few sprinkles while riding but we were all prepared for the weather and we didn't have any issues. It was nice riding with the family. That's what this Grandpa thing is all about.

Have a good week and keep those people in Texas in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Day at a Time

Photo 1: Like everyone else, I watched the eclipse the other day. I wasn't in the path of total darkness, but it was pretty cool. Not as cool as the local television stations had it hyped, but not something you see every day, certainly. The top photo was shot with my little cheap digital with a #12 filter plate in front of the lens. Doesn't look like the moon was even in the photo but about 3/4 of the sun was obscured when the photo was taken. There's supposed to be another one visible from Fort Wayne in 2024. If I'm still ambulatory, might try to take that one in. I've got seven years to research how to take a decent photo. 

Photo 2: New bicycle seat for the city bike. Typical Chinese quality and a little misrepresentation on the cover being made of leather. That's not any type of leather that I'm familiar with but I didn't really expect much for $15.00 including shipping. You get what you pay for. However, the damn thing is really quite comfortable and since I rarely ride the bike, it will probably last a while. I've got a piece of heavy leather around here I can make a cover out of if I ever get to the point it needs replacing or it bugs me enough to pursue it. I've done a bit of leather working and enjoy it, so it might be a fun winter time project.

Photo 3: Live trap. I bought a trap to take on the raccoons. Caught one in the top of the shop already. Appeared to be a young one. I gave him the choice of telling me how he got in or "taking a ride" but he wouldn't talk. So he's gone but I'm still wondering how they're getting in. I've got it set again with some past sell-by date tuna for bait. The smell is strong enough that I'm probably attracting them now. I'll see what happens in the next few days and maybe put it out in the big barn and see what I can catch. Long as it's not a skunk, it'll all be good. The raccoons don't really have any natural enemies around. I don't think the coyotes present them with much of a challenge and nothing else is big enough to keep the population in check. That leaves me, I suppose. When I was at the high school there were a couple of guys who trapped them. I don't know if anyone buys fur around here anymore or not. Not that I want to take up trapping and skinning as a hobby. I always thought the mountain man lifestyle had a certain amount of appeal but I can't see me pursuing that unless it's a result of the Zombie apocalypse or the grid going down. There'll be a lot of lifestyle changes if that happens. 

Photo 4: New ceiling fan with lights for the bedroom. It's a Hunter brand and I was impressed with how easy the installation went as well as how nice and quite it works. It took me about 1-1/2 hours taking the other one down and putting this one up at a nice gentle pace. The only tools needed were a couple of screwdrivers and a pair of pliers. I don't think there was a single swear word during the whole operation, either. Works good, Momma's happy and another one off the list.

Made it through the first week of school - painless enough. Several of the students don't have gear yet but I got them all started. With only 16 sessions, there can't be any fooling around if they're going to learn to weld. Have to get them out in the shop running beads right from the jump. Got a bike ride coming up and a couple of open wheel races scheduled with Cuzzin Ricky in the near future. Hope the weather holds. We had a couple of rain-outs early in the season - like to finish out on a high note.

Enjoy the weekend. It won't be long and summer will be over.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Surly came down yesterday to swap out some bicycle parts and to get a welding lens for watching the eclipse. When we went out to the shop for the lens we heard a critter noise. I went up the ladder to the "attic" and sure enough a raccoon has been in there again. I don't know how he's getting in there, I thought for sure I had things sealed up tight now. I'm going to get a live trap and start running a trap line in both my shop and the big barn on a regular basis from now on. Maybe catch a big one this winter so I can make me a 'coon skin cap. Be just the thing when I'm out plowing snow.

And for a bit more excitement, there was a bat circling the bedroom about 4:45 Sunday morning. The dog was barking Saturday afternoon at the laundry room. For some reason he rarely goes into the kitchen or the laundry room so it was odd that he was barking in that direction. Neither the wife nor I could figure out what he was barking about, but it might have been the bat. We've had bats in the house several times in the past, and like the raccoons in the shop, I've got no idea how they get in. The wife says it's because I hold the door open too long at night when I let the dog in or out but there's no way one could fly by me without knowing it. In fact I'm sure I'd scream like a little girl if it happened. Their wings make some noise. At least I got lucky this time and got it taken care of fairly quickly. It's kind of spooky when one wakes you up by flying around your bed in the pitch black, however.

Plenty hot and humid yesterday so I didn't do much. I cleaned up some more of the yard waste from the volunteer trees and bamboo I cut down recently then I went into the shop and finally got around to drilling the brackets for the deck on the new barn. I drilled them on the mill so I could slow the speed down since the brackets are stainless. Took me a bit but those are done. I'll get some carriage bolts this week and get those installed. I've about decided on the railing design for the deck. Just a bit more think time and I'll get my material so I can finish that job up.

Photo From Here

First day of the semester and a solar eclipse. As good a way as any to kick off the last go-round.
Hope the sky is clear enough to see it. The timing is right for my schedule to get outside and check it out. If you're lucky enough to see it, just remember to protect your eyes. Flash burns aren't fun.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Heavy Bags

Heavy bag hangers for the gym. I dropped them off the other night, so my part is done. I got the new tires and tubes installed on the touring bicycle and got the grips re-glued on the city bike as well. Moving on to other partially completed projects like the deck off the end of the barn and maybe hit a few licks on the VW. No shortage of things to do.

If you've got a few minutes to kill and you have even a passing interest in Industrial Design, you should check out the film about Raymond Loewy at Silodrome. It's an old piece that was shown on 60 Minutes. It's about 15 minutes in length but it will be time well spent. Also stumbled across a video of the new Jeep truck. Of course it's a 4 door and it looks like it's set for a 2019 release. Looks nice from what you can see, though.

I start school tomorrow, finish in December. Really looking forward to full time retirement. I'm sure it won't make much difference in what I get accomplished but I'm sure I'll be a lot happier. I've been working for 50 years - that's enough. My boss did mention the other day that he had to cancel a few classes for the spring semester. I think he was trying to make me feel a little guilty - not much chance of that, however. Starting tomorrow I'm counting down from 31!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bicycle News

Since I'm waiting on my new tires for my touring bike, I drug the old "city bike" out, washed it off and aired up the tires so I can get some miles in before the ride I'm planning in a couple of weeks. I've got my "racer" I could ride but I wanted to get this one out and ride it a bit anyway.

Surly and I bought a box of tubing with enough pieces to make two bikes quite a few years back. This is what I ended up with my half of the parts. A bike with dimensions that fit me well, 7 speed shifter on the bars and 700 x 37 tires good for both paved and gravel roads. I used this as my commuter for a couple of years before retiring from the high school. The rack on the back is stainless hydraulic tubing from cut-offs Surly got for me from where he used to work. Everything is silver brazed together. The handlebar is from a cheap department store bike that is turned upside down in the photo but is now right side up as it should be. If I was going to ride this thing more often I'd invest in a nice aluminum mustache bar. It's got cork handgrips, which are pretty nice. Unfortunately, one of them has come loose so I need to get some contact cement and fix that. Also, the seat's pretty hard. It too is a cheapie but I ordered a similar style one off of eBay that's leather and sprung. Don't know how good it will be for $15.00 but at that price I'm willing to gamble.

I'd like to build myself a new mountain bike. The one I've got is one of the first they came out with way back when. It's a Peugeot my brother gave me after he got out of the Army. He's a bit shorter than I am, so the bike's a bit small for me. Hasn't stopped me from riding it the last 25 years or so but I'd like one that fits me, is a bit lighter and has a sprung fork. And I'd like to build another bike just because I really enjoyed building the one above. Maybe consider it if I get a couple of motorbike and car projects finished up. Of course by the time I get caught up on those I'll probably be too old to ride a bike.

As for the rest of you - get out on your bike/walk/run - get yourself some exercise. Best thing you can do for yourself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Typical Days

Been an interesting few days lately. Sunday was the wife's birthday and she decided it would be nice to cook some stuff on the grill for us and the rest of the family. She mentioned the night before there would probably be a wasp nest under the grill cover, so look out. Sure enough. Only I didn't even get the cover off before I got stung on the knuckle. It's always amazed me that a wasp doesn't even have to land on you to sting you - they can zap you on the way by and give you enough venom to cause a good amount of swelling. And pain, of course.

Later she needed some butter from the freezer downstairs, so off I went only to discover the freezer had quit working. Fortunately, it must have happened not too long before I opened it up because the stuff on the top was soft but the stuff on the bottom was still frozen solid. Lot better than the last time that happened and everything had melted and the meat had all gone bad. The wife's sister had a freezer that she no longer used and was wanting to sell so Surly met me at her house and we brought it home and I got everything transferred or tossed as needed. After all that the Missus gave up on grilling and we went out for dinner instead. Came back to the house and had birthday cake, so it was all good.

Going along with the theme of old equipment giving up the ghost, I jumped on the bicycle the other night and didn't get too far before feeling something wrong with the front tire. Looks like the belts broke and put a bend in it. The tire has a lot of miles on it but I hadn't planned on changing it this year. I ordered a pair of Schwalbe Marathons to put on the bike. They seem to be the gold standard of touring tires. I talked to my old "saddle pal" a week or so ago and we might be doing the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska next year and these new tires should be just the ticket for road or trail.

I talked to a salesman from the Ducati shop I visited the other day. I was about to pull the trigger on the Icon Scrambler but we couldn't make a deal. I wanted to trade off the SV650 but he said they had a house rule of no trades on bikes over ten years old - mine's eleven. He said he'd knock off $1K on a cash deal but by the time he added in the sales tax and all the rest of the fees, he added back $1.5K. I understand there's no way around the $560 on the sales tax, but another $1000 for prep and title fees? Seems a bit excessive to me, plus I still would have to do something with the SV. Maybe I can make a deal on an Enfield. I might go check out the big dual-purpose singles that Suzuki and Kawasaki both sell. I've got a trip or two I'd like to take and one of those could be fun.

I did make some progress out in the shop. These are parts for heavy bag hangers for the boxing gym. All set to start welding them together. I'll get those finished up this week and move on to a couple of other jobs that have been stalled. I did get most of my yard work completed. The old place looks much better after some weed/brush control and a little judicious landscaping. Still could use a little more TLC but I'm planning on taking care of some of that later this Fall.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Racewalking Champ!

Did well at the 5K on Saturday. I was the first male walker in and the second over all. I started out near the back of the pack to stay clear of the runners but the lady who came in ahead of me must have started pretty close to the front. I closed the gap and was doing OK until about the 2-1/2 mile mark and I threw in the towel. I might have been able to catch her but I didn't want to risk running out of gas and have someone else pass me if I faded. 

Beautiful day for the race. My running/cycling buddy paced me to keep me going. We usually chat while we're out there but not today. In addition to trying to get another shoe, I had a side bet with my buddy Jimmy - he with the bum feet. The bet was I could walk it faster than he could run it. I didn't make it so I owe him a dinner and a beer. If it wasn't for the bet, however, I probably wouldn't have won the shoe. All in good fun plus I got a sweatshirt. Hard to beat that.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Drop The Big One

"Boom goes London, Boom Paree - Japanese kimono for you babe, Italian shoes for me." 

So here we go again. If you're my age you grew up with the nuclear threat. Of course, I was born only a few years after the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombs were dropped and the world saw what atomic bombs were capable of, and no one wanted that to happen again. Especially on us here in the U.S. Ended up that Khrushchev didn't bury us and the Soviet Union fell apart and, for at least a little while, we were sort of safe from the threat of communism and nuclear annihilation. Now we're back at it again with North Korea launching missiles and all the rest of the craziness going on in the world.

I'm guessing all the preppers are going to be changing their focus to nuclear warfare and bugging out isn't going to be a very good option unless you've got a place like this to go to.

Photo From Here

And you're going to have to have plenty of advance warning if you want to get there before you're consumed in the fireball or taken out by the fallout. I don't live too far from Chicago and the news folks say N. Korea could hit it with one of there missiles. I might be OK if the wife and I could live in the basement for a couple of weeks with the dog and cats. Liable to get pretty stinky down there after a few days, however. I need one of those outside air intakes with the filter like in the picture.

I've about done all I'm going to as far as preparing for a disaster. We had the hurricane force winds come through a few years back that knocked the new barn down but we weren't without power for any length of time. We did have an ice storm that left us without power for 4-5 days about 15 years ago. Since the weather was cold, that was a little uncomfortable, but we managed. I was about to start tapping the water heater for our drinking water when help arrived and the power came back on about the same time.

I've since taken further precautions but you can only do so much. My time is running out and I'm not going to waste a lot of it worrying on what ifs. However, if you haven't seen the movie Hiroshima Mon Amour, you might want to seek it out. It was made in 1959 which was just about at the peak of the Cold War. It's a pretty artsy-fartsy love story with the devastation of an atomic bomb thrown in, but you would expect that considering the time period and an avant garde film maker. 

And there's still no good answer to the question of why can't we live together.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Indy Trip

I went to Indy yesterday to get some advice from the financial guy and hit a couple of bike shops and Trader Joe's as I'm wont to do. I went to Speed City Cycle first off. They handle Royal Enfield, Ural and a couple brands of scooters. This is the first time I've been there. It's a small place but lots of bikes inside. I had a nice chat with the owner. He said Royal Enfield is currently selling 65,000 bikes per month world wide. That's quite the sales figure. He updated me on the progress of the Himalayan model - it's completing all the testing required for EPA and CARB requirements. Said it won't be too much longer and he should have a couple of them in.

I also stopped at the Ducati shop on the way home. First time I've been there as well. There's a 2016 Icon scrambler model on the showroom floor the owner said he'd cut me a decent deal on. I'd really like to get a new bike but I don't really know what I want. The Ducati is about the limit as far as price goes. It's also about as big a displacement as I want. The Enfield would be a cool little toy and I think it would be just the ticket for one of my "bucket list" items but the I'd get a lot more motorcycle for not much more money if I went with the Ducati. I'll keep thinking it over. Probably end up just keeping the SV650. As little as I ride, it does just fine but I'd really like to get a new bike.

I'm planning on finally getting back in the shop today. I've still got a few things to do around the yard but it's time to do a bit of fabricating. I've got a 5K Saturday and that should be about it for the race walking for a while. I'll be back on the bicycle trying to get some miles in to shape up for a couple of upcoming events. 

Have a good weekend - supposed to be really nice here the next few days. Get out and enjoy it.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Smokestack from the Oliver Chilled Iron Plow works in South Bend. It's just down the road from the Studebaker Museum. It's a little tough to see in the photo but the name Oliver is spelled out up top. This one would have been good in black & white - sort of a Rodchenko style. I've had the itch lately to shoot a roll or two of the medium format or maybe drag out the 4x5 and shoot a few with that. A lot of the stuff I work on or travel to see lends itself to B&W. I know the digital stuff can be converted to B&W easy enough but I'd like to get back in the dark room and fool around a bit, plus, I'd like to try a few portraits like Rodchenko and some of the others of that era did.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Pulled off the hat-trick of Planes, Trains and Automobiles Friday and Saturday. I scheduled the last post a couple days in advance, and after writing it up I called Cuzzin Rick to see about us getting over to the Studebaker and New York Central museums in the next couple of weeks. He said let's go Friday, I've got nothing much else shakin' this week, so off we went.

The top three photos are from the Studebaker Museum. Photo 1 is the car Ab Jenkins drove from coast to coast in a little more than 77 hours. If you're familiar with hot rodding or Bonneville speed records, you'll recognize the name of Ab Jenkins.

Photo 2 is a Bendix. It's a one-off special made for the Bendix Company to promote their line of automotive parts. It's a beautiful car. 

Photo 3 is a '55 Commander model, I believe. Love that two-tone paint job and all the chrome. The Commanders and the Hawks were nice looking cars. Long and low with the cool fins but the Larks were butt ugly. Basically just a box with headlights on the front and taillights on the rear. The museum has some prototype cars and sketches of design ideas of new models but they just didn't seem to be heading in the right direction. I forget what year it was but one of the info boards said they sold 400,000 cars and trucks that year and they employed 24,000 people. They were a major player at one time.

Photo 4 is an EMD E-8 on display at the NYC Museum in Elkhart, IN. Those E and F units are my favorites of all the diesel units. My favorite among the steam locomotives would have to be the streamlined 20th Century Limited that used to run over the tracks there. Coincidentally, two of the most famous industrial designers were involved with Studebaker and the NYC - Henry Dreyfuss on the 20th Century Limited and Raymond Loewy with the Studebaker Avanti.

Photos 4&5 are from my flight aboard the B-24 Saturday morning with my brother from a different mother. Just like last year when we did the B-17, the weather was ideal and the flight itself was fantastic. Again, I can't imagine flying combat missions over Europe in one of these things. Brave men they were. This one is the only remaining flight worthy B-24 of the thousands that were produced during the war. Next year we're planning on going for a ride in the B-25. The Collings Foundation also has a P-51 you can go up in. I'll have to pass on that one. A ride in that one would be the same as a nice down payment on a new motorcycle or pay for a flight to Europe.

I posted a photo on my Facebook page about my trip over to South Bend/Elkhart and one of my former students asked if I had ever been to the Auburn-Cord museum as well as a couple of other places. I've been to the Auburn-Cord museum but it was a long time ago. Looks like I'm going to have to take a trip over that way one of these days. Maybe stop by the Bell Aircraft museum in Mentone on the way. So much to see. I'm extremely fortunate to be able to do these things. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Train Rides +

The Missus came across a railroad excursion in Michigan that looks like fun: The Coopersville & Marne Railroad. It's located about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids. Kind of a long way to go for a short train ride, however, coming up on the 12th, they have the Del Shannon car show and train ride. According to the website, they have 500-600 cars lined up as well as a decent helping of motorcycles on display. That'd be worth the drive. Kind of short notice for me, though. I'm scheduled for a 5K that morning - not that I couldn't bail out of that with very little remorse. It would cost me my entry fee as well as my dinner bet with Jimmy. Hate to lose that bet without a fight, though.

Cuzzin Ricky and I considered hitting the Illinois Railway Museum on our way back from Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. We had talked earlier about a trip to there as well as the car museum in Volo. That'd make for a nice 2-3 day trip. I've never been to the Volo Museum and it's been a long time since I was at the Railway Museum. Need to check both of those out one of these days.

Locally we've got the Hoosier Valley Railroad. I've been on there stuff quite a few times but that's been a while now as well. Last time was when the steam train came through. I should ride the motorbike over one of these nice Saturdays and go for a ride. They go out of business if you don't support them. It's only $12.00 and I've been wanting to shoot a roll or two of B&W.

There's also the New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart, IN. I've been there before but Cuzzin Ricky hasn't. We're planning on checking that one out when we go to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. I told Rick I'm going to the Studebaker museum this year come hell or high water. Absolutely no reason not to go see things that are within a couple of hours of drive time.

I've got a birthday fast approaching. I'm going to be 67. Looking at it realistically, I've got maybe 10 - 15 years left. I've got a lot I want to do and see yet. No sense in wasting any of those precious years laying around the shack. Need to get out and ride the rails!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nothing Much To Report

I've spent the first few days of the vacation doing chores and taking care of little things. I renewed my driver's license, picked up some more supplies for the landscaping work, posted my grades, got a haircut, etc. While at the barbershop I came across a small item in a year old magazine about McPherson college building an aluminum body for an old Indy car. I've heard of McPherson and their automotive restoration program before but looked up the school anyway. While shopping around on their website I came across summer offerings not only in automotive work but also classes of interest to teachers that are offered in the Milwaukee area. I'm not interested in the teaching classes but if any of you are in need of credits for license renewal or degree completion, you might want to keep them in mind. Myself, I'm interested in maybe taking one of the summer workshop courses dealing with auto restoration. They've got a sheet metal fabrication course that could be right up my alley. I'll try to keep it in mind for next summer even though I've already got a few things in mind.

I stopped in the county courthouse while I was out running around. There was a new security guard on duty that is a former student of mine. It now seems that everyone working security there is a former student of mine. Seems like the odds of that happening are pretty slim but there it is.

Planning on going on another airplane ride soon. I did the B-17 last summer, B-24 coming up. Should be exciting.

More landscaping on the agenda, weather permitting. I also need to get some painting done outside. While I'm pretty happy with the progress on the work around the shack, I need to get back on the car and bike projects soon. It'd be nice to finish at least one of them this year.