Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Shop Teacher Bob's Latest Adventure

 Our bike trip on the Cowboy Trail will be starting in Norfolk, Nebraska. We'll get shuttled to Valentine and then start the 200 mile ride back to Norfolk. We're looking at four days on the trail plus a couple of days out and back. The weather looks dry but hot. As long as we travel at an easy pace and stay hydrated, should be OK. I've got a fresh tube of SPF 50 sunscreen. Depending on how things work out we might stop at the Museum of American Speed on the return trip. It's not too far out of the way but it'll depend on the timing of things more than anything else.

I weighed my duffle bag after packing and it was only 19 pounds. Since that's all the weight I'll have in the trailer, I put my self-inflating mattress back in and took the little pad I use for back packing out. All told with my food, cooking gear and clothing I've got right at 30 pounds total for the trailer and the panniers. That's about as low as I can comfortably go. I've got some additional weight in my saddle bag with tools, first aid kit and spare tube and patch kit but those are a necessity.

Happy Trails, Y'all!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Saturday Nights Are For Fighting

Took three fighters to an event Saturday night. We couldn't make a match for one of them, one of them got his ass handed to him and the third one fought to a decision that went his way. The kid that got beat should have gotten an academy award for his performance when he went down. I won't say he took a dive but he sure as hell didn't want to get back up. This is the second time I've worked this guy's corner while filling in for Jimmy and it looked like we were on some reality TV show both times. That's it for me. I'm quits with that guy. Our winning fighter fought real well, getting better every round. He needs to work on his breathing but for a guy who has only had seven fights, he looks real good. He has a classic style - throws well with both hands, puts the shoulder behind the right hand, keeps his feet under him and he's all business in the gym and in competition. Night and day difference between the two fighters.

A couple of real positive things from the night: Our losing fighter was actually crying after the fight. His opponent's mother came over to him and gave him a nice consolation/pep talk and when she finished she told him. "now give me a hug". Classy lady. The referee for the evening was one of the best I've ever been around. He called all the fighters together before the bouts began and gave them his instructions. He repeated his instructions to all the fighters prior to the bouts starting, checked on the fighters between rounds and did a fine job of controlling the action, protecting the fighters but still allowing them to fight. When our winning fighter came back to the corner after the bout, he was hanging on the ropes huffing and puffing while I pulled the gloves and his headgear off him. The decision hadn't been announced but the referee came over and told him to stand up straight and look like a champion. And you could tell he meant it in the nicest possible way. Also he told my guy before the fight started while checking his equipment and repeating his instructions, while looking at me, to pay attention to the old crusty guy, he's been around long enough to know something about boxing. I got a chuckle out of that.

I'm about down to my fighting weight now. I used to be a middle weight - 165 lbs. That's what I weighed when I graduated from high school and when I got married. While I'm a ways off from being a middle weight, I could make weight as a light heavy now. I'm floating around 177-178. My goal is to make 175 by July 7th. Shouldn't have any trouble making that after the bike trip. I've still got a bit of a belly, probably have to get down under 170 for most of that to disappear since I'm not carrying the muscle I used to. Regardless, I'm in pretty good shape for a guy who'll be attending his 50 year high school reunion soon. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the old dudes held up.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What's Been Going On

The well drilling outfit. It cost a pretty penny to drill the well but when you look at the equipment being used, there's a bit of overhead. There were two guys with two trucks and about a half day of time invested putting the well in.

Another two guys came back to connect everything from the well to the pump in the basement. The little excavator made pretty quick work of the trenching operation but he did have a little trouble with the sides of the trench collapsing in the soft sand. Fortunately it worked out OK without collapsing on anyone but he had to cut the sides back more than he wanted to. 

They showed up about 9:00 and left about 1:30 and I didn't see them stop working the whole time. They were all business and did a pretty nice job of filling in the trench and cleaning up when they were done. They ran a conduit for an electric line at the same time so when my pump fails, it will be relatively easy to swap out with a new submersible pump. I'm hoping that'll be something the next owner can worry about.

The top photo is a heavy bag from the gym. Nothing exciting about this, just put new chain on it. But that's one of the many reasons I need a truck. Seems I'm always hauling something around. Bottom photo is the sidecar wheel with the new tire fitted. It's mounted up on the sidecar now, so everything on that is finished except trimming the windscreen for clearance on the brace. I'm starting back on the bike itself now. 

I bought a Sirius radio tuner for the truck but ran into a snag there - why doesn't that surprise me? The manual says there's an auxiliary jack and a USB port to connect things but there is no auxiliary jack and the Sirius radio kit doesn't have anything that'll connect to the USB port. I need to get an adaptor and then I can finish that up. I found one on eBay for $1.60, shipping included but it won't be here for four to six weeks. Maybe try Radio Shack instead.

I've about got everything ready for the bike trip. I still need to pack my clothes but the bike is ready and the panniers are packed with food and cooking gear. The laundry's all done so it's just a matter of deciding what I'm taking along and packing in into the duffel bag. I checked the weather out there and as of now, it looks promising. No rain and temps in the mid to high eighties. We'll be doing roughly fifty miles per day, so it shouldn't be too tough on an old man.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cycle Camping

We did the shake-down cruise to see what condition are conditions were in. About 25 miles each way. The trail is very nice but you have to use the highway for about 1-1/2 miles to get to the park. It's a busy road but most of it has a wide berm so it's not too dangerous. My only problems were my old sandals fell apart and leaving the park on the return trip you have to make a couple of steep climbs without any real warm up. At my age and with my medical history, I prefer easing my heart rate up. We got rained on both down and back but the timing worked out so we missed the big storms that came through before we hit the trail. When we got to the park the man in charge was kind enough to put us in a spot right next to a pavilion and close to the bath house so we could stay dry and had shelter if it got real bad. Fortunately, it didn't. My legs held up well with no soreness pulling the trailer around.

When we were getting ready to leave an old dude was cutting grass and we got to talking to him. Come to find out he used to race motorcycles and knew a couple of the same people my buddy and I know. He said he was 80 years old, gave his street bike to his son last year. Cool old dude. That's the kind of conversations you have when traveling on two wheels.

I'm typing this on the newly repaired computer, by the way. The local shop got me fixed up in a timely fashion and at a very reasonable cost. The Geek Squad was going to take three weeks to replace the hard drive and they wouldn't transfer my files unless I ended up paying something in the neighborhood of $150.00. The computer is supposed to be under warranty but apparently the hard drive is under warranty but the programs and the files are software and the warranty doesn't cover that. I'm thinking that's a load of crap. I doubt seriously that I'll be buying another Dell computer nor will I be taking any of my business to Best Buy.

Things are now pretty much back to normal around here. I've got a computer and water, so that's good. Still got a huge list of things that need done around the shack and on the projects but that'll probably always be that way .Looking forward to the upcoming bike trip now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We Have Water

The well guy showed up and made the hook up. The pump cycle time is much shorter and you can tell when it's running that it's pumping water rather than sucking air. Glad that's over with. I've got quite a bit of work to do to repair the damage done to the yard and the sidewalk but I knew that was coming.

Doing a shake-down cruise on the bike. Going to ride the Panhandle Pathway, camp for the night and then come back the following day. It's been awhile since I did any bike touring but I think I've got everything packed up that I'll need, not only on the shake-down cruise but also for the Cowboy Trail, except for additional clothing and provisions.

I should get my other computer back in another day or two, when that happens I'll post a few pictures of what's been going on around here.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Been having a bit of trouble in the computer department. I've got the big one out for a hardrive exchange and the laptop is still plagued by a lack of memory. Some am I, truth be told, but there's probably not much I can do about that.

The well guy finally showed up and got the new well drilled last week. He was supposed to come back the following day for the hook-up but there was an emergency at one of the dairy farms that took precedence. Hopefully he'll be here on Monday so I can get that job wrapped up.

I got the new tire on the sidecar wheel, so that job is just about finished. Time to start on the bike.

Due to the computer issues, I went into the college the other day to write up a recommendation letter and to take care of a few other things while I was in the neighborhood. I ran into my boss while typing up the letter. One of the instructors has taken a new position and the boss was not too subtlety feeling me out about coming back and teaching a few classes again. He said he was really pleased with how I handled the Fab class and he'd really like for me to teach it again. Have to see about that.

Happy Father's Day to all you Daddy-O's out there. Stay cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Service Economy, My Ass

I called Sirius radio yesterday. Since I'm paid up until February, I went ahead and bought one of their portable radios to put in the truck. I wish I could have talked to a native English speaker, however. Working in weld shops and around hot rods and race cars all these years, my hearing is not all that it was, and when you toss in someone from a service center located in India it's a bit tough for both of us. It got worse when I called Dell.

The little laptop I bought in March ran low on memory about the time I took it out of the package. Windows has a couple of updates which basically brought the thing to the point is was barely useable. After being on the phone with their service rep for about 45 minutes he fixed it up so it no longer works at all. He was very nice but I had even more trouble understanding him. After he gave up on the fix he transferred me to someone else who said since it wasn't a hardware problem, he could fix me up but I would be charged for the service. Again, he was hard to understand but I understood enough to know I'm not going to pay to upgrade something that's only three months old. I think I'll scrap it first. Or mail it back to Dell and tell them what they can do with it. I did fill out the online form for problem resolution. Maybe I'll get somewhere with that. In the meantime my big computer was getting a message about the hard drive going bad. I filled out the form and they're sending me a new hard drive. Since it too is a Dell and less than a year old, I'm not too happy with them. 

I hate talking on the phone. By the time I was done talking with the "service" people, I was about as frustrated as a cardiac patient needs to be, so I had a bite of lunch and then headed to the shop. Did some cleaning and putzin' around, including sharpening some drill bits. Good therapy there. As was going to the gym working the heavy bag and the mitts last evening. Still waiting for the well guy to show up also. Be nice if service economy actually offered some decent service. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bicycle Rack

Bike rack modified, painted and ready to install.

Finished product. You have to look close to even tell that it's in there but there's nothing wrong with that. My touring bike won't fit on the rack with the pannier racks on the fork, so I need to get the "racing" bike out if I'm going to be taking the bikes anywhere like I did the other day. Wouldn't hurt to ride that one a bit anyway. I might enter that bike race I've done a couple of times in the past again this year. I should be in pretty good shape after the Cowboy Trail and I'll have a few weeks to do some "speed" work. The race is eight or nine miles in  length. It'd be nice if I could do about a 19 mph pace. A few years ago I averaged about 21. Two years ago I started out at about 19 but faded about a mile from the end. If I had remembered the course better and knew I was that close to the end I could have pushed myself a bit more but it wouldn't have made any difference in the placings. Mostly it's like the 5Ks I do - a reason to exercise, have some fun and add to the Tee shirt collection.

Anyway, the bike rack is finished and it's on to other things. I need to do a bit of cleaning out in the shop first. Get everything tidied up and then tackle the 900, make a couple of little things on the Sprint project and start making some sidecovers for the BSA.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

New Truck

Goodbye Veloster, hello F150. I'm going to miss the little car. It was a fun little thing to drive.

I picked up the new truck yesterday. Think it'll be something I can live with for a while. In fact, might be the last new four wheeled vehicle I ever buy. I got 15 years out of the old Dodge. If I get 15 years out of this one, I'll be in my eighties if I live that long.

I loaded up my saddle pal and our bikes in the back of it and went a couple of towns over to ride the trail as my first outing. It sure rides and drives a lot nicer than the Dodge. The new one is a 2016 but it only had 4400 miles on it when I got it. The dealer said an old guy bought it but then found out his wife couldn't get in it with her bad hip, so he traded it in on something that sat lower. I'm going to have a similar problem with the Missus, so I need to get a step or some running boards to make it easier for her to get in and out as well. Seems like most of our trips together are trips to medical facilities and we always take her car anyway. I did a little online search and found some tubular chrome running boards that should do the trick and will dress the truck up at the same time.

I modified the bike rack that was in the Dodge to fit the Ford already. I need to take it back out, clean it up and then prime and paint it. I'll get that done in the next couple of days and then I'll be about set. The new rig doesn't have the provision for satellite radio. I'll have to see what I want to do about that - cancel the service or get a plug in tuner for it. I like the satellite radio both for the selection of music that's available but also because it's commercial free. Actually that's probably the biggest part of it. I did figure out how to program the presets on the radio already so I've got the radio dialed in at least.

I'll get the bike rack finished up and then back on the other projects.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Wheels

I bought a new rig - wasn't an XKE - but rather a Ford pickup. My old Dodge pickup is in need of some serious work or a new home. I chose the latter. I traded in the Veloster on the truck. Had mixed feelings about that. I really liked that little car and they're coming out with an even sportier version but getting a newer truck and getting rid of the car and the old pickup is really the best plan. License plates, taxes and insurance costs add up pretty quick, plus I buy plates for a couple of trailers and a motorcycle. And in Indiana, you never stop paying excise taxes on your vehicles. It goes down every year until you hit the minimum but it never goes away. And you have to pay the sales tax on your original purchase. Taxes - curse of the working man.

I'll post a couple of photos of the new rig after I pick it up tomorrow.

I checked with the bike shop about the sidecar tire. Seems that size is a little hard to come by. He's going to cancel the order and get me a similar size that's more common. Other than cutting the windscreen for the strut clearance, I've got everything else done on it. I'll be starting on the bike itself now. There's not a whole lot to finish up but I'm sure it'll take me twice as long as it should. I've been spending quite a bit of time on the bicycle training for the Nebraska trip, which doesn't help getting the projects completed, but I'm looking forward to the bike trip.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mr Anachronism

A few items gleaned from the news of late:

Secretary of Defense Mattis says that 70% of those in the age group 18 - 24 are unfit for military service due to obesity, drug use - either licit or illicit - education or something else. While the 70% number is a shocker, if you've been a classroom teacher lately, you wouldn't find that all that surprising. God forbid if something happens that we need to count on our young people, hopefully they'll rise to the occasion.

Maybe not though. I also came across a little ditty about Portland, Oregon. Seems now that smoking weed is legal, they're having a hard time filling job openings because people can't pass the drug test. Now there's a big surprise.

From the Wall Street Journal last week an article about student loans. Says there are now over 100 people who have student loan debt of over $1,000,000. Yep, over one million dollars in student loans. The one example cited was accruing $130 per day in interest debt.

As part of my Alaska trip I'll be riding on the Alaska Railroad. Seems there are no cash transactions on the train. If you wish to buy something in the café or dining car it must be purchased with a credit/debit card. As much as I dislike the idea, it won't be long and it'll be that way everywhere. With my borderline? paranoia, I just don't like the idea of every purchase I make being recorded. Plus, how many people have gotten into big trouble with credit card debt? If you don't have the cash in your pocket for a purchase, hard to get in trouble by over extending. Of course, it is possible to get in real debt with borrowing. Just see the example above.

I developed a roll of film earlier today. That'll be another thing of the past real soon. For the most part it is already I guess. I saw where Canon no longer makes a film camera. Everything is digital and I understand the why of it. Makes perfect sense. However, I still like the mystery of taking the shot and developing the film to see how the negatives came out and the later magic in the darkroom when your image appears in the tray. Plus, altering a print in the darkroom is a much different process than altering digital images and I prefer the former to the latter. I'm not a total Luddite, mind you. This is the guy that just finished taking a multi-axis CNC machining course. Just a different skill set but also a reminder that it's never a bad idea to have some old school skills as a back up.

I'm not quite ready for the aluminum foil protective beanie yet, but I see some potentially dark days on the horizon. I've witnessed a few "digital" failures already. Most were no more than an annoyance but as we become more dependent upon the technology, the opportunity for major disasters grows. I'm not losing any sleep over these things but by looking at the big picture it's pretty obvious that young people not fit enough for the military, huge debt loads, no cash reserves or way to spend cash, and total dependency on technology could cause the perfect storm shutting down the whole country with a lot of people dying as a result. Not a pleasant thought, certainly, but one worth considering. At least in my case I'll be able to make a photographic record of the end of the world as we know it.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Portraits & Road Junk

One more Merle Oberon. Three different photos, three different looks. I like looking at these to see if I can figure out how they were lit. This one is a little tougher than the other two because it's hard to see her eyes. Obviously there was an overhead light in front and to the left - maybe two looking at how bright her left arm is and the lack of shadow on the background. The lack of a background shadow could've been the result of a background light as well. Probably two lights on her face judging by the lack of shadows under the nose. While I prefer both of the previous photos I've posted to this one, this is a great photograph just the same. Most of these were taken with an 8x10 view camera with retouching on both the negative and on the print if called for. Truly an art form from start to finish.

No art on this one. Just one more item I've found over the years while out running or cycling. I started running in earnest in 1976 when I was boxing and my coach told me we should enter the 10.5 mile run the town was planning as part of the bi-centennial celebration they were having. I've been running, racewalking or cycling ever since. I've covered a lot of both town and country miles and I've seen all kinds of flotsam and jetsam while out on the roads. Liquor bottles and beer cans of course, pornographic books and tapes, cassette tapes with about fifty feet of the guts unspooled, road kill, tools, car parts, trucker bombs, and I even picked up a Richard Petty Matchbox car while on my bike trip out west a few years back. About the only thing I haven't come across is money. I've found the occasional nickel, dime or penny, but never any real money. Probably the greatest value I've gotten has been the health benefit and the time spent with my running buddies and saddle pals.

Looks like the ninety degree temps are gone for a while. That'll make the cycling a bit more enjoyable. However, I'm sure it'll be hot in Nebraska when we're out there, so I need to get out in the heat a bit to get acclimated. I should have the sidecar finished this upcoming week and, hopefully, have a good start on getting the bike itself finished. Be nice if the well guy showed up too.