Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bike Breaking

I'm building a bike. Actually, rebuilding is probably more accurate. Or maybe merging, since I'm taking two bikes to build one. So bike breaking (as in ship breaking) was the first order of business.

Why build a bike, you ask? I already have a couple. I'm getting old however, and my back hurts and my knees are shot (one of them, anyway). I want a recumbent, but they cost an arm and leg, or at least as much as knee surgery. Being a cheap and thrifty guy of many talents, I'll figure I'll can try and make one.

It almost seemed like a sin to cut into a bike frame. One of the donor frames was a freebie early eighties mountain bike frame from a missionary getting ready to go home. The other was a late seventies Japanese road bike frame I paid $20 for.

I don't think I would have tried this if it wasn't for two things. First, all the instruction are posted on the internet. I learned from Project Buggy that working the bugs out of a design is the most time consuming part of a project. I'm more than willing to let someone else do that for me.

Secondly, Smitty was next door and willing to teach me how to braze. Brazing is a lot like soldering, which I became quite proficient at doing for Project Buggy. You just need about a magnitude more heat. It is also a lot easier to do than welding, which is why it has been a preferred bike building technique from the beginning of time.

Tune in for our next episode, where we'll learn about the sling seat design and the modern miracle called Phifertex.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Broken Bride Rock Opera

Don't ask me how I stumbled onto this, but it is fascinating. It is a 27 minute "rock opera" by the band Ludo. It reminds me of Rush's 2112.

It might help if you read the storyline while listening. Here is a good link:
(it will open in a new window thanks to my wicked html skills).

If nothing else, listen to the last song (part IV). You'll still need to know the storyline to fully appreciate it.

There. Blogation over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Following Blogs

Seems like family blogging in blooming! Here are a couple of trick to keeping up with it all:

First, the key to subscribing to a blog is getting the "subscription URL". Most of us are using Blogger, and at the bottom of the blog's home page, there is usually a link labeled "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)". If you right-click on it (sorry Mac users, you'll have to figure it out), and select "copy shortcut", you end up with something similar to this for my blog on your copy/paste clipboard (in memory):

There a a couple of things you can do with a subscription URL. If you like the the blog list I have on the right side of my page (I'm calling it "blogiptions"), you can add one to your blog in the following manner:
  1. From your blog page (while signed in), select "customize" up at the top.

  2. Select "Layout" tab, and then "Page Elements".

  3. Select "Add a Gadget" from your side bar or bottom bar.

  4. Select "Blog List", select your options.

  5. Click "Add to List" at the bottom.

  6. Add the subscription URL you copied from the blogs home page (see earlier instructions).

If you would like a central place to read postings without going to each page, you can use Google Reader ( You still need to add the subscription URLs by clicking on the "Add Subscription" link and URL like above. Actually, if you populate your Google Reader first, then you can have Blogger import the links for your Blog List and avoid the long procedure above!

There is a new feature for called "Followers". From your Dashboard ( while signed in), you have a "reading list" toward the bottom. Click "Add" and paste in the subscription URL from above. You call also add a "Followers" Gadget to invite people to follow like you see on my blog.

Finally, probably something most of you know, when you make a reply to a post, there is a box to select if you want to get follow up e-mails. It is normally unchecked. If you check it, it will send you a email whenever someone posts to that specific topic.

Good luck following. Let me know if the instructions trip you up. Blog at ya latter!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End of the World and Pink Elephants

I'd hate the world to end before blogging about it, so I'm posting a day early.

The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to fire up Wednesday, and may create a mini-black hole which would then swallow the earth. Man, wouldn't that be cool to watch! According to Fermilab theorist Joe Lykken, with about the same probability, it could also create a pink elephant!

Here is a entertaining and informative LHC rap song that doesn't mention pink elephants:

Kurt Vonnegut knew how the universe really ends. It is blown up by the Tralfamadorian's experimenting with new fuels for their spaceships. A test pilot presses a starter button, and the whole universe disappears (from Slaughterhouse-Five). I don't think Kurt ever wrote about pink elephants.

Do I think it the world will end? No. If it does? I think we probably deserved it. “Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt.”

P.S. Dibs on any pink elephants created tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Buggy hits the Blogosphere!

The people over at Make Magazine blogged about the Buggy Project! Check out:

That gives me a warm fuzzy. I'm hoping they'll put it in the magazine or one of their cool books. The magazine is where I got the soda bottle rocket design from two reunions ago. They have more cool projects than I have time (or money)!

I've got a lot of good feed back on the project at the Instructables Website, but I don't know that anyone has tried to build or improve on it. I was hoping someone would take off with it. I improved the code a bit, so if you come by to visit, bring your buggy and I'll upgrad it and give you a new battery (they only last a week or so).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tree House 2.0

Stephanie's tree house underwent a refit last week. After nearly twenty years, it needed it. Smitty helped me build this down in Florida one summer back when Stephanie was about six. I think we spent about $100 for materials. It was set on stilt about six feet high in between some trees in Grandma and Grandpa Smith's back yard. This was when I really learned to appreciate Smitty's problem solving abilities. He takes the time to think things through, whereas I plow right in, usually making regrettable mistakes. We ended up with a tree house built to last twenty years or more.

When we moved to Oregon, I cut the stilts off and transported it in the back of my old big blue truck, which in turn was towed by the U-haul. It made quite a spectacle. In Oregon, it found a new spot in our back yard in between two evergreens.

Not being on stilts allowed it to be overrun by all sorts of crawly things, which in turn kept the intended inhabitants from using it much. The Oregon rains had been working on the roof, and many summers of sun had faded the paint. Jeff, my son-in-law, instigated the overhaul, which is fitting considering it started as a father-in-law project. Being quite a handy man, he didn't learn much from me on this one. Smitty played more of a consultant role, probably humored by the role reversals.

Now it has a new roof, is back up on stilts (actually a foot higher than originally), and has a front porch. It is ready for another twenty years, and a new generation of inhabitants.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Viva la Vida

Stephanie had a cool song from Coldplay on her blog that I had never heard. Apparently they put out another album and forgot to tell me. The sound is quite a bit different than their earlier albums.

I put together the album on Playlist. If nothing else, listen to Viva la Vida.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Top ten things not to worry about!

Here is an interesting article about things not to worry about:

I would add:
  • Making your bed.
  • Mowing your lawn.
  • Neil being elected president.

What else is there we shouldn't worry about?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Neil for President? Why Not!

Why haven't we heard of this before? I didn't know Neil was running for president. He must have a lot of friends!

How about Emily for VP!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Sister Missionaries, Scene 6

The final Scene. All scenes can be seen here:

Scene 6 – Final Scene – Missionaries alone at end of day.

M1 – What a day!

M2 – My feet are killing me.

M1 – Dreary Hill wasn’t as all that bad. We made a lot of great contacts!

M2 – Yea, and we didn’t get shot at.

M1 – The Lord was watching out for us. I felt the spirit several times today.

M2 – Yes, your right. I’m glad we went. I think we are going to be great companions.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Marathon Fun

Last Tuesday, Sheryl and her boys came down for a visit. We picked blackberries in the morning, and then went swimming in the afternoon. As if we weren't glutton for punishment enough, I took Rachel and Robin to see the circus. After all, how often does a circus come to Corvallis? Boy, were we tired after that!