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Journal: Welding Class

Journal by Kurt Gray
So I'm taking a welding class, part of a local adult-ed night class program. Now I get to have a taste of what attending a vocational high school might have been like. And who knows, the way the techie job market and civilization is general is heading, a better understanding of the more traditional occupations may come in handy. Forget Cisco certification, sign me up for crane operator certification. Crane operators make pretty decent cake, at the end of the day they can point at what they helped build and know it will last a long long time (something web site builders can hardly do), and at the risk of losing their license, a crane operator can park their own car just about anywhere. But what started this welding kick is I was watching a "Junkyard Wars" marathon one afternoon and it made it clear to me that I must know how to cut and weld arbitrary pieces of metal.

Last year I learned glass blowing and I learned it's much harder than it looks. I produced a few globby paperweights, some ornament balls, and two really sad attempts at a drinking glass. The drinking glasses a so sloppy and warped they almost look like intentional works of art.

The year before I learned scuba diving, got Open Water PADI certified. It was hard to enjoy the experience since by the time our class got to ocean it was October, and diving of a New England beach in late October when the water is 50-degrees or less, even in a dry suit, the frigidity of the water and the bulk of your diving gear is enough to make you quickly consider if perhaps watching underwater scenes on TV is in fact more relaxing and comfortable than actually diving into the frigid deep yourself, not to mention watching it on TV is a whole lot safer. But yes it was worth it just to try it. I haven't done more than snorkel since though.

I highly recommend adult education classes. I also took an import/exports business class recently just for the hell of it, you never know when this stuff will come in handy.

User Journal

Journal: Just a good ol' boy

Journal by Kurt Gray
I'm not a country music fan but sadly today Waylan Jennings has died. Waylan is all kinds of famous in music circles but he's better known as the narator and theme music composer for the favorite TV show of my youth, "The Dukes of Hazard". When I was 10 years old Friday nights was "Dukes of Hazard", and Saturday morning was "Super Friends", then Saturday afternoon we'd run around re-enacting those shows as well as "Smokey and the Bandit", "Cannonball Run", "Any Which Way You Can". Ahhhhhh.... to be 10 years again, only next time with a little more money and a better BMX bike. That's all I ask: to be 10 years old back in 1980 with a pocket full of cash, and riding a Mongoose or Red Line with long cranks and mag rims. Then again I should be careful what I wish for.

Best web log I read in a long time: http://dnalounge.com/backstage/log/

Over at the workshop I am currently turning a vase on my lathe. The work material is three kinds of wood: maple, walnut, and oak. To make the blank I sandwiched a few long strips of walnut and maple together, then cut the sandwich into sections at 22.5 degrees, glued 8 sections into an octagonal ring, then glued 3 octagonal rings together to form the blank for the vase. I'm learning that once the shape is roughed out I can run the lathe a few speeds faster than I have been.

At work I'm working on compiling browser and domain stats for all OSDN sites. It's pretty amusing what some people set their browser ID strings to be, "grep [obscenity] agent_log" always yields interesting results.

User Journal

Journal: Notes from my craft lab

Journal by Kurt Gray
Recent notes about playing in my workshop:

Old boxes: I don't know why I just like making old looking boxes, like something out of Myst or Riven (my favorite game series of all time) Start with some cheap ass pine, chop in six pieces on miter saw, cut finger joints on table saw, glue 4 box sides together (fingered jointed) then glue top and bottom on, finish outside of the box with oils, stains, wax, whatever (I like to make it look old) then cut box open on a band saw, finish the inside with old stain or tissue paper, apply hinges and clasp... next thing to attempt is carving or sandblasting some old style medieval or victorian patterns or Celtic vinework on the outside of the box.

Sandblasted bottles: I finally hooked up my sandblasting cabinet with a 3 HP compressor. Instead of throwing away some bottles (like Snapple bottles) I just wrap them in masking tape, draw a freaky pattern on the tape, cut away the pattern with a craft knife, put the bottle in the sanblaster and frost a pattern onto the bottle.

Wood stoppers: On the lathe I made a few quickie wooden stoppers for some of the bottles I blasted. First I tried oak, came out alright but oak seems to stiff to make a nice fitting bottle stopper. So I took a short length from a plain maple dowel, mounted it on the lathe, turned out a quick fancy stopper that fit snug and complimented the shape of the bottle.

Bowl turning: I cut the end of a thick maple board, mounted it flat on the lathe bowl turning plate (using a wood mounting plate, brown paper separator, and glue), and turned a shallow bowl. My mistake here was mounting the bowl on the lathe so that the direction of the turn was crossing the grain of the wood so the chisel would get jammed in the end grain and leave a gouge in the wood (and sometimes slam the tool in my hand into the toolrest, ouch)

Table saw: My table saw is an angry bitch. God help you if you the rip fence is not perfectly aligned and locked solid less the piece you're cutting gets snapped out of your hand, ripped to shreds, and thrown back in your face in one loud angry clap. Most unnerving sight I witnessed in a while was friend of mine ripping a long piece of walnut while standing directly behind the end of board pushing it forward into the blade while resting his STOMACH against the end of the board as if tempt my moody table saw to kick back the board and harpoon him right through the mid-section, luckily I was able to cut power on the saw before my friend learned the hard way why it is Norm Abram stands *aside* from the end of a workpiece on the table saw while its in operation. I use the miter saw and band saw whenever possible.

I still have all 10 fingers.

User Journal

Journal: Never enough power tools

Journal by Kurt Gray
So I got some workshop space in a old mill down the street from my apartment, finally a place to put my power tools and make as much noise and dust as I want at any time of day. Should be ready for me to move in this weekend.

Got a portable electic generator to run my rotary saw and whatever else wherever I want outside. Now I'm looking for a stone workers lathe. Haven't checked ebay yet.

Saw "Jay and Silent Bob" last Saturday. I laughed but unfortunately the stoners sitting next to us couldn't stop laughing from title to credits so that was kind of annoying. Funniest part: Jay's vision of Planet of the Apes "They'll be taking our jobs and wearing our clothes... not on my watch!!"

User Journal

Journal: Desk cleaned

Journal by Kurt Gray
A new beggining: my desk is clean again.

Slashdot should be getting a 6th dual-Ghz web server today. I gotta be going to Logan to catch a plane to VA, meet with CIO.

User Journal

Journal: My desk and head are a mess

Journal by Kurt Gray
Remember to put the new TPS cover sheet on that report, m'kay?

This week we had to setup a bunch of new servers for Slashdot/Banjo, most of it anyway. The web servers are all new (5, 2251's dual 1 Ghz right out of the box), the DB server is not as new (still a 3350 with 4GB RAM, new kernel and a new BIOS image thanks to Karl and Yazz) we'll replace it with a 4450 as soon as Karl gets Debian installed on it. Kind of tricky to boot/install Debian without the DAC RAID driver in the boot kernel. Karl will figure it out.

It's 12:00 AM Friday night, I'm still at the office, had time for a McDonalds late-lunch at 6:30PM. Got Slashdot's ad banners updated on Banjo NFS server... let me check that actually... yeah that works. Trained Brian and CaptTofu on Arrowpoint config so they can adjust and check Slashdot's load balancing without needing our netops to do it for them. I trust Slashdot will stay up for the night so I'm going to bed.

This is why I do stone carving in my free time, it's so analog, so hands-on, so not having anything at all to do with computers. It's fun *and* productive. Just need a place to plug in my 3 HP air compressor, it draws 14 AMPS, blew a 20A fuse at my apartment last night. The outlet for my eleectric stove is rated for at least 3500Watts... hmmm...

My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. -- Errol Flynn Any man who has $10,000 left when he dies is a failure. -- Errol Flynn

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