When the pandemic hit, I needed something to do. All my music stuff had been canceled. Unlike me, who works remotely, it was apparent that several businesses were going to be negatively impacted.
I contacted Best American Craftsman (aka BAC) in Overland Park, Kansas to see if they’d still be fixing instruments. They would be, but with some staff doing repairs at home, and a smaller staff in the shop at any given time. All good, I was in no hurry.
I sent in my Bach 42 trombone in specifically for their “Escape Velocity” slide service. Having sat in the case for at least a decade in the 2000s had not served it well 😞 Also, my F-attachment valve was slower than molasses in January, as they say.
Was it worth it to box up my case and ship it half-way across the country? Absolutely! It was like my slide and f-attachment trigger action were brand new – possibly even better than new 💪
Reconnecting with my people
I’ve had a ton of hobbies over the years – you can read about most of them on this blog. But recently I came to the conclusion that band people are my people. Of all the subcultures I’ve steeped myself in, they are the best. There’s something about band kids (we’re all band kids at heart) that binds us all together.
I’ve even found that some of my old high-school classmates are still active. An Irondale classmate invited me to a jazz camp in norther Wisconsin. Besides being all-around fun, I got to do group lessons with fantastic trombonist Andy Baker, and also actively work on improvisation – which I’ve never been good at. I’ll keep chopping that wood for next year’s camp 🪵🪓
Slide oil, cream, or mix?
Working with River Valley Sound (the winter winds part of 728 Cadets) I met Chris. He’s a band director and trombone player. He was able to help me quickly hone in on what’s new.
Being a frequent pit-orchestra guy, Chris also gave me advice on a trombone stand. I initially went with the Hercules hand-slide stand. It is very solid and does avoid the stopper leaving a mark inside the bell. However, I quickly realized that I instinctively want to pick the horn up by the slide handle. And the slide handle is now in the stand 😕 So I switched to a standard style K & M stand. It’s more expensive because it’s made in Germany, but it’s solid and I just do what everyone else does – put a sock on the stopper so it doesn’t leave a mark in the bell 😎
I was talking to a friend about my Chevy Bolt after I got it, and remarked how many features it has. Then I realized nothing on the list of features would impress him. He’s the type of guy that gets a new car every 2 years, so he’s seen the gradual stair-step addition of features across several models.
The “new” automatic windows that go all the way up/down with a single button press astound/annoy me. That’s how far behind I was.
I’d driven a 2002 Subaru WRX since 2005. It was a fantastic little car that was terrifically fast. At the time it didn’t have a lot of extra features – you could buy the base WRX for less than $25k in 2002. While the base MSRP for a 2021 Chevy Bolt is in the $30k range, tax and dealer incentives frequently brought it to the $25k price point.
Are there some things I miss from my WRX that the Bolt doesn’t offer? Of course. One of the things I’m completely willing to let go of is the additional .6 seconds of quarter-mile time. The Bolt does it in 14.9 to the WRX’s (stock) 14.3. The fastest I ever drove my WRX in the 1/4 mile was 14.001 – after several modifications. I’m OK with the Bolt being “stuck” where it’s at in terms of speed, because the motor/transmission/drivetrain is so dead simple that it may last forever.
The things the WRX had that I will actually miss:
Great seats (the Bolt’s are notoriously un-bolstered)
All wheel drive
Occasionally that rumbly sound (but not on road trips)
Part of the reason I bought the Bolt without a test drive is because of this enormous gap in time. I knew that there would be a tremendous amount of “new stuff” that I wasn’t accustomed to. Would I have purchased a higher trim level like the Premier if I had test driven? Maybe, but only for the stereo upgrade 🔊
I got my daughter a FItbit Ace 2 from Best Buy for her birthday in 2021. You can get the older model Ace 2 there frequently on sale for less than $50. I honestly didn’t think she’s wear it, but I quickly learned she loved completing the challenges that it offered. She’s the type of kid that never sits still, so it seemed like a good fit.
She stopped wearing it later in the year. I thought getting her a new band for Christmas would get her excited about wearing it again, but my wife thought it was a lost cause. After Christmas came and went I asked her why she didn’t wear it, and it was because she didn’t like the band! 💡So I decided to revisit a new band for her birthday.
There are several big band stores out there like StrapsCo and Axios that sell several different styles of Fitbit bands. I really thought she’d like this rainbow one (which cost as much as I spent on the watch) 😅
Inspire 2 / Ace 2 bands – interchangeable?
So I ordered it because it claimed the Inspire 2 bands also work on the the Ace 2… sort of…
When I got the band, there was one problem. There’s an extra ridge on the band that must work on the Inspire but the Ace doesn’t accommodate it.
I saved $300 on a portal-axle G500 crawler!
Or did I?
I was at Hub Hobby, my local hobby shop, getting some body posts for the LaTrax Prerunner after they busted out on the ice.
I wandered into the RC section and noticed they had a few of the new PandaHobby Tetra 1/24 scale portal-axle rigs. I asked the sales guy if they had blue. He said they did in the back and went to go get it.
I didn’t expect to buy anything besides LaTrax parts, but I guess I’m doing this! I already knew of some of the 1/24 Tetra’s shortcomings – having subscribed to a Tetra Facebook group a while ago.
Continue reading →
My old barrel stove was getting dangerous. I bought it on Craigslist for $25 or $50 almost a decade ago now. It was rusty when I bought it, and all that heat and snow over the years has made it really crumble. To give you an idea of how dangerous it was – at the end of it’s life I had to prop it up with a log (one leg rusted off completely). The log started to catch fire due to small holes in the barrel. Time for something new! 🔥
Then I got a barrel off of craigslist. I think it had been used for cooking oil in its previous life because it smelled like a hamburger joint 🍔
Per the instructions, the vent below the door is supposed to go where the small barrel vent is. I used a metallic sharpie to mark the drill holes and openings. I used a die grinder air tool to cut the openings and a new titanium 1/4″ drill bit for the holes.
I added anti-seize grease to all the nuts and screws in the kit, but I’m not sure if it’s going to help given the temperatures and moisture it will experience. But we’ll see – worse case scenario, if I want to transfer the kit parts to a new barrel, I can use the 1/4″ bit and drill out the screws.
To fasten the legs I put the barrel on its side and blocked it with a couple pieces of wood. I put the seam down b/c that’s where I’m going to do the cutting for the steam trays and chimney. I figure I should remove material at the seam since that’s probably the weakest part of the barrel anyway.
With the barrel chocked into place, I put the legs on and used a level to make sure it would sit flat once I fastened them.
Here you can see my anti-seize paste and an initial cut line I drew to cut out an area for the steam trays.
My old barrel didn’t have the flue installed, so I’m hoping this will be a game changer 🤞The goal is to hold as much heat in the barrel so energy is directed to the boil. Also I added a length of pipe to use as a chimney.
I cut a large section out for the steam trays and used a level to make sure they’d sit as flat as possible when it’s out in the yard.
I used my Ingersoll Rand die grinder air tool to make all of the cuts for the door, chimney, and steam trays. It’s slow going so take your time and be patient. I made several cuts over several days. The cut-off wheel I used was new when I started this job (over 4 1/2″ in diameter) and was probably around 2″ when done.
Here’s the new rig in action – the best part is the chimney which keeps the wood smoke overhead. You’ll still smell like a wood fire, just not as bad 😎