Monday, April 29, 2019

Polaroid & Hemorrhoid

I received a catalog from Freestyle Photo a while back and finally got around to taking a look at it Saturday. It is primarily showcasing film products, alternative processes and instant film, both Polaroid and Fuji. I was aware that Fuji was still making instant film but didn't realize any type of Polaroid film was still available. They have several types of cameras for sale as well as both B&W and color film. One of the cameras they're selling is the SX-70. I about choked when I saw the asking price - $429.99! I can't imagine anyone buying one at that price. They're nice cameras but I wouldn't think they're much more than a novelty now. However, if anyone is looking for one, just so happens I've got a couple of them. Film is &18.99 for 8 exposures.

They also have some alternative process stuff I'm considering ordering - a tintype kit and glass plate negatives. I've got a big 4x5 box camera that was designed for glass plate negatives plus a field camera I could make them work in. I've been wanting to start doing some more photographic work for a while now. Maybe buy some glass plates or the tintype kit as well as some fresh chemistry for some traditional film work.

The weather lately has been a genuine pain in the ass. Saturday was cold and rainy. A little farther north they got snow. I went out in the afternoon and happened to go by the soccer field and those kids were out on the field while it was raining and about 40 degrees. They had to be miserable. Yesterday was decent. Sun came out and it warmed up in the afternoon. I did some stuff inside in the morning and then cut both the front and the back yard in the afternoon - figured I better do both front and back rather than on consecutive days like I normally do. Looks like more rain coming in the next few days. I want to get some work done in the garden and the yard but snow and frost warnings aren't very garden friendly.

I found a 5K run/walk fairly close by in about five weeks and a bicycle ride in about a month. I need to check with my running/cycling buddy and see if she's interested in one or the other or both. I need something specific to train for or I won't get off my duff and do anything.

However, I did do a little repair job one of my students brought in the other night. It was a bell mount in the shape of a lighthouse made of cast iron. I brazed it up - good grade of cast and welded nicely and then ran a gas welding demo for him and another student. Neither brazing or gas welding are in much demand these days but are skills every welder should have in his repertoire.

Only four more days at the college - I'll be glad when that's over. Definitely time to move on, plus, I don't have much free time working both jobs. You get to be my age, time becomes a very precious commodity.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Dethatching the Himalayans

I bought an El-Cheapo lawn dethatcher the other day. And in the you get what you pay for department, it needs a bit of an upgrade before it can be used reliably. The tray on top is designed to hold concrete blocks but there's nothing to keep them from sliding out the end or bouncing out. I put some bolts through the holes that were punched in the end of the tray and that worked fairly well to keep the blocks from sliding out the ends but I still had to stop and reload the blocks occasionally due to them jumping ship. Also, the tines loosen up during use. The bolts holding them in have nylon stop nuts but they still loosen up. Since this is a once a year thing, I've got until next spring to figure out a solution to the Mexican jumping blocks and the tines falling off. Shouldn't be a big deal, just one more thing that'll be added to the list.

The Himalayan uses flat bars to hold the top of the panniers in place. The system works slick enough except one of the bars doesn't have quite enough clearance between the tubes on the mounting bracket. I took the flap wheel to the top of the bar and put a bit of a taper on it - it rotates around into place nicely now but the bar is plated steel meaning the part I tapered will rust since there is no longer any plating on it. I'm going to order in some aluminum flat bar and make new pieces. They'll be a bit lighter as well as not rust. I got the other two brackets for the bicycle panniers made up so they're ready to mount up if need be other than painting them or coating them with Plasti-Dip. I'll look for some of that next time I go to Menards.

I went to a real lumber yard the other day to see about some replacement windows. I swapped out some windows in my old house years back with some from Marvin and was real happy with how they performed. I went to find out exactly what I need to measure to get a quote and order them. Looks like the best way is to pull the trim off one of the windows and measure the outside of the frame. I'm going to try and get that done this weekend. The lumber yard guy says it takes 3-4 weeks to have them made up. My buddy Kevin's dad is a first rate carpenter. I'm going to talk to him about the installation.

Only two more weeks at the college. I'll be glad when that's over. I think I can work the new job for a while to keep me in travel funds. I received an e-mail about an off season trip to Spain - about the only place in Europe left that I really want to see. They have a Scotland trip also that would be nice. However, I still need to get to Nevada and Hawaii. I'd like to do Nevada at least this year, then maybe back to Europe next year. Maybe go to Bonneville this year, hop across the state line into Nevada, mark my territory and call it good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

God Bless America

unless, of course it's coming from Kate Smith. Or so say the Yankees and the Flyers - the Flyers going so far as to cover up her statue. Kind of like they've done down south with many of the statues of Robert E. Lee and others.

Easter Day explosions in Sri Lanka killed over 200 people and injured something like 500.

The Notre Dame fire was caused by an electrical short according to the Chicago news station I usually watch. And they said it with a straight face so it must be true.

Washington State is thinking about composting human remains.

San Francisco had 28,000 reports of fecal waste needing cleanup in 2018.

The measles outbreak is all over the news these days. While I certainly have sympathy for those poor kids, the only people who are going to be affected are those that refuse to vaccinate their children. When you roll the dice, sometimes you get snake-eyes.

I read an article in the New Yorker about the NRA. I was aware they were in financial trouble. The article does a good job of explaining how it happened. Apparently protecting our 2nd amendment rights isn't a very large part of their mission. Spending large sums of money on salaries and promotional firms seems to be job one instead.

Medicare is projected to go belly-up in about seven years - Social Security in about 15.

And don't forget about the latest outbreak of Ebola.


The more I read and hear about the world as it is, the more I just want to start stringing the concertina wire around the old homestead here and just hole-up.

I'm on Medicare and it's a sweet deal as long as your medical provider will accept it. The Missus and I pay a little over $200.00 per month for supplement policies versus $1,800.00 per month we paid prior to that for health insurance. If we have to go back to that due to Medicare going belly-up, that'll definitely put a crimp in my retirement plans. With others, it could literally be deadly considering what the effect could be on the health care industry. The Missus and I will both be lucky to make another fifteen years, so the threat of Social Security going broke is not all that scary. Again though, there are a lot of people with SS as their sole source of income.

I've read lots of articles around on the internet and there seems to be a lot of people willing to take up arms if things get much worse in this country. The next presidential election looks like it could be the tipping point. I certainly can't predict the future but it would make sense to give it some thought and do a bit of risk assessment - kind of like the measles outbreak. Weigh the odds and ask yourself what happens if the shit does actually hit the fan. I'm back on the plan starting this week. Cutting back on the sweets, getting back on the bicycle, doing some strength exercises and doing my annual spring review of emergency supplies, etc. Scout motto: Be prepared.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


Patriot's Day, 4/20 and Easter Sunday. Wave the flag, get high, go to church. You could also throw in the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing in there. And Columbine. Probably aren't any three days in a row more significant than this. And this is the first time in nine centuries there won't be Easter services at Notre Dame. I don't really know what to say about all this other than I hope you have a blessed day.

Peace to you and yours.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Econ 101

I read a letter to the editor the other day in the WSJ from Scott Wolla of the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis. In the letter he stated many of the Federal Reserve Banks provide free professional development in personal finance and economics for teachers. Additionally, the Federal Reserve Education website offers hundreds of free classroom resources for teachers and individuals. I checked it out and there's a lot of good info there.

I used to do a little bit of "save your money" to my guys in the Weld Shop. I used the formula in the Machinery's Handbook for compound interest and showed them how their money would add up if they started an IRA account as soon as they started working. I went into the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA and made sure they all understood that $2000.00 per year into an IRA would allow them to retire as a millionaire. Granted, it might be tough putting $40.00 per week away when you are first starting out but put something in the account and pick up the pace when you move up to a better paying job. As the defined benefit pensions have either gone away or gone broke, it's even more important now to provide for your own retirement. Hard to think 50 years down the road when you're 18, though.

Check out the link and save your money - hard times are coming.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

New Tools and Old Cathedral

I'm sure most everyone has heard about the horrible fire at Notre Dame in Paris. Not much I can add to the story except I'm glad I got to go there five years ago and there hasn't been much said about the cause of the fire as of yet. Apparently there has been a bunch of churches vandalized in France of late and there was restoration work going on at the cathedral. So it could have been arson or it could have been the dreaded "welder's torch" responsible. I suppose there could be other explanations as well but it's really hard to know what to believe in the media these days. Damn shame, regardless of the cause. Just might be the finest example of a Gothic style cathedral in the world.

Some of my booty from my trip to Harbor Freight the other day. The angle grinder was on sale for $9.99. Probably won't last long in any kind of regular service but I'm planning on mounting a wire wheel on it so it won't see a lot of hard service. The ear muffs and the socket set are to replace some tools I took to my new job. I've got plenty of tools at the house but I work out of three different locations depending on what I'm trying to accomplish. I have a nice little socket set I keep down the basement that I took to work, and of course I needed it at home the other day. The Harbor Freight set has 1/2" and 3/8" ratchets, metric and standard sockets, including spark plug wrenches and it was only $9.99 as well. The ear muffs were $2.99 so everything in the photo came to less than $25.00. I now have most everything I think I'll need for the new job and I've got things back as I like them at home again. Now I just need to get busy again.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Crazy Weather

Cuzzin Ricky and I were supposed to go to the races this weekend - Haubstadt and Terre Haute. Rick called me Saturday morning about two hours before we were to rendezvous and said the Saturday show was postponed until late June. We talked it over for a few minutes and decided to cancel out the Sunday night show also considering the weather. Wise decision since that event was postponed as well.

Since I didn't have anything else planned for the day I decided to get caught up on a few piddly things around the house since I'm still a bit behind with all my traveling. I didn't realize it was as nice out as it was until I went outside later in the afternoon. I should have gotten out much sooner - beautiful day. The magnolias and daffodils are blooming, sun was shining brightly and the temperature was about 60 or so. I worked a bit in the garden to clean up around the rhubarb that has come up and where the asparagus will be popping up soon. Should have gotten out sooner and spent a bit of time in the shop also.

Sunday was a whole other story. It rained quite a bit Saturday night into Sunday morning and the temperatures had dropped into the mid-thirties. I decided to head north to Harbor Freight and a couple other places and took off about 10:30. I got about two-thirds of the way there and the rain started to change to snow. About the time I got to Harbor Freight, it was snowing hard and the roads were covered in slushy snow. I did a quick turn around and headed back home - passed three cars in the ditch along the way. About half way home the snow had turned back to rain and the drive was a normal - for Indiana at least - Spring rainy day with a 34 degree temperature.

Spent the rest of the day going through the stack of magazines and a few more household chores. And eating. I really need to get back on some kind of a regular schedule. Time to start riding the bicycle and working out with something other than a knife and fork. I did OK until I went to Ireland. I've fallen off the wagon big time but I'm going to start cutting back on the grub this week and see about some type of regular exercise plan that I can ease into. I've got four more weeks at the college. After that it should be easy enough to get myself on a regular routine again. And stay on it, hopefully.

Friday, April 12, 2019


The visit to California was the 48th state I've been to. When thinking about going there, the only things I really wanted to see were the Golden Gate bridge and the giant redwoods. Not only did I get a chance to see the bridge but we drove across it. Must be a million rivets holding that thing together. The bridge opened in 1937, welded construction of bridges didn't really come into use until after WWII. The thing really is a marvel. Beautiful design and they were thinking ahead making it six lanes wide. Very impressive.

We visited Redwood Park located north-east of Oakland on our way to the airport on the return trip. I didn't see any giant redwoods but I did see some big-ass redwoods. I'm going to call it good enough for now. Depending on what I work out when I get to Nevada, I might be able to see some of the big trees on the eastern side of California. However, right now I'm shooting for Bonneville which is just outside the eastern border in Utah. Cuzzin Ricky and I have been tossing some ideas around for a train ride out there as well. Have to see what shakes out as the year progresses.

The American Welding Society is celebrating its Centennial this year. I've been involved with welding for at least half that time - I've been a member for a bit more than a quarter of it. There have been a lot of advancements in the field over the 100 year span. The trade has been good to me and hundreds of my students over the years. April is National Welding Month, by the way.

Last, but certainly not least, at least to me, today's the anniversary of "the grabber" seven years ago. With the diet and lifestyle changes, I'm doing exceptionally well. The Missus saw a photo of me taken in the Redwood Park and commented about my belly being a little more prominent these days. Going to have to work on that a bit but glad to be alive and healthy enough to travel and enjoy life.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Shell Eco Marathon II

1. Photo inside the big tent. This is the work area for all the teams. Each area had electric power and a banner with the team name and where they were from indicated on a map of North and South America. Really a nice set-up for the teams. It was kind of like a circus under the big top, with many of the teams thrashing on their "clown cars", our team included.

2. Prototype car. The rules are pretty much wide open on this class. They have to go through a safety inspection but that's about the only thing that's checked. The car got 830 miles per gallon here but it has gone over 1000 mpg back in Indiana. Sonoma Raceway is about at sea level and the course has a couple of hills. In Indiana the course is flat and it's run at about 1000' elevation. I'm not sure how much difference that made and I'm not sure of the fuel they were running in California. I asked several people about the fuel and no-one seemed to know the octane rating or if it contained ethanol. Both of the team cars are fuel injected but are being run on the factory injection settings. The instructor said he hasn't found the time to fiddle with the mapping of the system and having done some of this in the past, I can believe that.

3. Urban Concept car. This class has to be built to conform to a strict set of rules. Basically it's a "street legal" car - lights, horn, turn signals, windshield wiper, trunk, and conform to size limits.

4. Team photo. Great group of students and advisors. I don't know if I ever would have undertaken a project like this. Building one car and taking it to Indy like I used to was enough of a headache. Building two cars, shipping them across country and then taking seven high schools kids on a 2000 mile trip? I don't think so.

The students did well for the most part. Not exactly a well oiled machine but they were able to do what needed to be done. The Urban Concept car had a bent brake rotor that I was able to help with. One of the students did all the wrenching and I manned the hammer to get it straightened out. Most of the tools were in various cardboard boxes for shipping. They started out labeled but got mixed up as the week went on. They could have used someone to keep things organized a bit better. Shell was very safety conscious. They had people walking around checking on the teams to keep everyone safe. Our team did a pretty good job for the most part except for the safety glasses. Most of the glasses ended up on top of the bill of their caps the minute they weren't actually doing something and then they had to be reminded to put them back on again when working on the car.

All in all, a very successful and enjoyable outing. The team will be competing in Indiana at the end of the month. Hopefully they'll be as successful there as well.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shell Eco Marathon

Made it back home about 10:15 Sunday evening. The crew had some ups and downs with the cars but they made scored runs in both of their divisions. The Urban Concept car had a mileage of 256 miles per gallon. The prototype car got over 800. This was the best of the 26 high school competitors. There were 92 teams all together from eight countries in North and South America.

Sonoma Raceway was an excellent host for the event. Likewise, you couldn't ask for much more from Shell for the considerable outlay in cash and time they invest in this event. They fed the whole group dinner one evening - even offering a vegetarian option for guys like me.

The weather was crappy the whole time I was out there. It literally rained every day  we were there. Most days it was just an annoyance but on one of them it was a gully-washer. We got to the track at 7:00 AM for the drivers meeting and then had to stand around until 1:30 before the track opened up. Plus, I managed to catch a cold while there. That's the first time I've been around a bunch of high school kids in a long time. Apparently my resistance to their cooties has worn off. Needed a booster shot or something.

The weather at home yesterday was a pleasant surprise, however. 75 degrees and sunny. I spent most of the day unpacking and doing the laundry, but I did get the Royal Enfield out. I rode it over to the Dollar Store to get some house brand Theraflu and a couple of other things. First time I've actually had it out at road speeds. 60 mph has the engine running about 48-4,900 rpm. Not much vibration through the handlebars or the foot pegs. The bags are going to be nice for trips to the store or carrying my lunch to work. I think I'm going to be real happy with this rig.

I've got a few more items to discuss about the trip in my next post.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Names Worth Remembering

Photo From Here - NSFW

Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were two men on the world stage who definitely left a name worth remembering. Closer to home I'd throw in Glenn Curtiss and Elbert Hubbard. In the sports arena I'd toss in Ted Williams. PBS featured him on its American Masters series a while back. While not always the nicest human being, he was without a doubt the greatest hitter that ever played the game of baseball. His stats would have been even more impressive but he lost a few years while serving in the military during two wars.

I don't follow any sport very closely anymore but I was a typical fan when I was young. Baseball was the national past time and living in range of WGN, I followed the Cubs and the Sox. As I age, I've come to realize how much baseball influenced my life. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, even though some of the great players from my time when I was a young man weren't exactly great role models. However, most of the shady side of their personal lives was kept out of the papers so you didn't hear about it. Different times, that's for sure. Names worth remembering? Mantle, Maris, Berra, Ford, Fox, Aparicio, Wilhelm, Santo, Banks, Williams and the list goes on and on. Sadly, most of them are long gone now.

Baseball has started up again and I'll be home in time to watch the playoffs for the Stanley Cup - if I can get it on my TV. The Missus downgrade our package on the dish - with my blessing. Not much on there worth watching. Plus, I'm hoping to get back on a regular workout routine now that the weather has warmed up a bit. My brother Johnny used to call the recliner the sloth-boy. How right he was.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

California Dreaming

California Dreaming by the Mama's and Papa's. Always liked this tune.

I think this is my favorite by them as a group.

Along with this solo by Cass Elliot.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

California Here I Come

California here I come - been a long time coming. I would have been there something like 50 years ago if my motorcycle hadn't have been stolen. I'd still like to make the trip on a motorcycle. The Himalayan might not be the best for touring but I was planning on making the trip on a 250 back in the day. I weighed my suitcase before traveling to Alaska and Ireland - about 22 lbs both times. I can pack light. Pick up Route 50 in southern Indiana and head west until my hat floats. Wouldn't even need a map. Unfortunately the Missus has some serious objections on that one. Since I'm lucky enough to do all the rest of my traveling, no point fighting over it but I'll keep it on the bucket list anyway.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Superbike Sunday on Monday

Did a little work in the shop yesterday - finished machining the little piece to mount the pannier on the other side of the Himalayan. I also cut out a piece of aluminum to back up the license plate on Cuzzin Ricky's trailer. The plate only bolts on using the bottom two bolts so the plate vibrated, cracked and then fell off. With the back up plate mounted, I imagine the bracket it bolts to will fail next. As long as he catches it before total failure I can make something a bit stouter. Or he should just plan on bringing it over here before it fails and stiffen it up first.

I heading to Sonoma Raceway this coming week. It used to be called Sears Point back in the day when I was tuned in to Superbike racing. This photo shows the podium finishers at Pocono. L-R: Pridmore, Duhamel, Wilvert. Hurley Wilvert didn't have a terribly distinguished career as a racer but he was a racer. He finished third in the '74 Daytona 200 behind Agostini and Roberts. That's definitely saying something about his talent. He passed away last August as the result of an accident at the age of 74.

Anyway, I'll be hanging out at Sonoma Raceway this coming week. Same place they used to run Superbikes and Trans-Am cars that I used to read about in the magazines and occasionally get to watch on television. And this will make state number 48. Only two more and I'll have been in all 50.

I'll finish packing and take the Missus to the dentist today and then off we go.