Sun And Games

Computer Games, Life, Business, Family, Stuff

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vintage Guitars & Vintage Boats

Guitars are kinda cool instruments, and one of the better ones for sail boaters. Sounds like a strange thing to say I know, but it's true. Allow me to explain, boats are really big places, and so even though, it's great that my kids can play piano, it's a little hard to take the piano to the boat. For that matter, have you ever seen anyone sit around the campfire playing songs on the piano. Well, no of course not. They all play guitar. It doesn't have to be a vintage Gibson guitar, any old guitar will do. Actually, any old beat up guitar will do. A smaller kid sized one, may be even better, if your accommodations aren't all that big. If you've ever checked out the price of those older guitars, you may be in for a little sticker shock. Picking up an old Gibson electric and Marshall amplifier could set you back thousands of dollars. I like the acoustic types for campfires, and sailboat cockpits while under the stars. They just seem better suited for the mood. So, get out of your bedroom, and start playing your guitar where others can hear you. If you can sing, that's even better. I can't, so if I ever learn to play, I'll make sure to learn songs that everyone else knows the words to, so they can do the singing.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Looking For A 40th Birthday Present?

I'm a little older than 40, but don't expect me to answer by how much. Well, lots of other people are turning 40 this year, and they have all sorts of friends that can't imagine what to get for them. It does seem like such an old age, at least it did for me. I didn't have a problem with 20, or even with 30, or come to think of it, at the time I didn't think too much about 40 either. But, now that I look back at it, it does seem kind of old. Maybe something about having a teenager around the house makes it worse, as they like to remind you about how young they are. Anyway, if your looking for some perfect gifts for a 40 year old, especially a guy, then you may need a little help. It is a big number, that for some reason, guys seem to have a harder time with. I guess, the trick is not to think about it. I know my Dad had a thing about birthdays, and never liked to celebrate his. I always thought that was a little silly, but maybe now as I get older, I can start to imagine why. Just a little, but not a lot.

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Blacksmith Anvils, Forges, & Tools

I'm as surprised as anyone to discover, that the career of blacksmith is still surviving to this day. At least the farrier type of blacksmith is surviving as a career. Horse still need to wear horseshoes, and farriers are the guys and gals that put them on. But blacksmithing in general still enjoys an avid following. While for the most part, is made up of hobbyists, anachronists, and plain old DIY folks, it is an interesting pursuit by many. If you take a perusal around the internet, you'll find all kinds of blacksmith tools of the trade still be sold and created. It's a popular part of being a blacksmith to make your own tools, but buying used tools that were originally created by other blacksmiths is still fun to do. Many blacksmiths do what they do for the artistic side of metal working. If you go to any of the big craft fairs, you should be able to find some interesting metal works done by many of these skilled artisans. If your considering taking up the fine art of being a blacksmith, you should visit the blacksmith tools for sale, to get you started.

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A Bulldozer By Any Other Name

Don't you ever wonder where strange names come from. For instance, who could have come up with the idea to name a heavy piece of machinery after a farm animal. Where did the "Bull" in bulldozer come from anyway. Apparently bulls like to partake in a sort of reverse tug-of-war pushing game against rival bulls. He who pushes the other further back the most, wins. Well, that seems pretty obvious, since a bulldozer really excels at pushing things, dirt, stumps, trees, boulders, and buildings around. How about Caterpillar Bulldozer. Now, if that isn't an oxymoron of words, I can't imagine what is. What would a bull and a caterpillar actually have in common. You would think nothing actually. The naming is connected with the Holt tracks built by the company of the same name. Apparently, when someone looked at the Holt tracks upside down then made a comment that they looked like a caterpillar. Can't say I've ever tried looking at a bulldozers tracks upside down, bu I could sort of imagine how they could look like a caterpillar. Anyway, the name stuck, and a while later the first Caterpillar Bulldozer machine was actually named. So there you have it, a caterpillar and a bull working together.

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Computer Geek GPS Farmers

It's pretty remarkable, where you'll find computer nerds these days, but farmers in tractors certainly had to be one of the last. I live in a pretty agricultural area, once I'm out of the city, and it never occurred to me, that farmers would make more use out of computers, than doing their accounting. But, in reality, they use it for all sorts of things, probably the coolest, is to put their tractors on auto pilot. Using GPS technology, more specifically Trimble GPS technology, combined with some pretty sophisticated software, farmers are putting their tractors on auto pilot. Apparently, by using GPS technology, and plowing, cultivating, preparing, and harvesting fields can be done incredibly more precise. This is important to farmers, as it means less time driving a tractor over the same section of field. That results in fuel savings, and manpower savings. By having computer driven GPS receivers in a tractor, that tractor can actually drive itself. I'm not sure if the farmer stays in the tractor as well, but it would seem a little safer to me. You'd hate to see a tractor run amok, and end up trying to plant peanuts down the highway. Trimble seems to have things worked out pretty good though, so that doesn't happen.

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Chainsaw Lessons

I used a chainsaw once, and it wasn't as bad, as you may have imagined. I still have all my appendages, and they're all still in the right place. That was an impressive feat considering my propensity for not being very comfortable around power tools. Now, it was only an electric chainsaw, and not one of those behemoth STIHL chainsaws used by real lumberjacks for felling huge California sized red woods out west. But, I did use it to take down a tree. I borrowed it from my father in law, who kept telling me to oil or sharpen the blades or something like that. It was a somewhat small tree, but a tree none the less. I actually left a stump of it up for a while (few years actually) as I had plans to carve it into a light post, that never actually took place. It seemed like a good idea at first. I wasn't planning on carving it with the chainsaw, but I thought maybe a lighthouse styled light post would be kind of cool as we do own a sailboat. But eventually, that stump fell victim to another chainsaw. A hired one actually, when the neighbor was getting his tree taken down, and my wife jumped at the opportunity to finally remove the eyesore from our front yard. Although, I've noticed a few houses in town, that have since had old stumps carved into rather amusing figurines on the front lawn. Not sure if they used a chainsaw or not.

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Anyone Can Be A Farmer With A Cub Cadet

Ever longed to spend some time on the farm, out on the back 40 tending to your crops, and just enjoying the quiet that farm life can bring. Chances are you haven't, since most people these days live in the city, and the closest they get to tending to crops, is the noise of their lawnmower, as they maneuver it around the kids swing set and climbers. Well, the good news, is that now you can pretend like you are a farmer with your own cub cadet riding tractor. If you've never seen one of these things, well there like a little tractor that the real farmers use. And they should I suppose, since they were originally conceived by International Harvester back when they say a need for the average homeowner to do a little more yard work with the help of a mini tractor. You can get a cub cadet, that just mows the lawn, but I'd recommend you go for the general utility model, so you can add a bunch of attachments. If your looking for Cub Cadet blades, check out that link. There's one for towing stuff, plowing snow, digging post holes, or whatever else needs doing around your yard. Other than that, they're just fun to bomb around on.

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Ever Tried Welding?

I've never welded anything in my life, but if I did, I think I'd want to do it with a Lincoln welder. May as well use the best. I'm not the most DIY sort of guy, and was never around big tools very often, but welding seems like a cool thing to try. Not sure it will make my list of to 40 things to do before I die, but certainly in the top 400. All those sparks, and bright lights, not to mention that cool helmet and shades you get to wear. I did work for a while in a steel fabricating plant, so I'm not sure why I never got to try it. Maybe because, I spent most of my time in the office reading blueprints, and making shop drawings for the boys on the floor to fabricate. There were a few weeks, though when the company went into receivership, that I spent working on the plant floor. There wasn't much work to do, so it was either spend a few weeks on the floor or be laid off. I don't remember actually doing very much, other than throwing rocks at the old equipment stored out back. I suppose that would have been my opportunity to use a welder then. If I could have found someone to show me how. You really do have to grab those opportunities, when they arise I guess. Well, maybe someday, I'll get to do a little TIG or ARC welding.

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It's Good To Be A Big Blowhard

That may seem like a strange heading, but it's not necessarily what you think. I'm talking about that oh so popular these days alternative energy generation. It's good for the planet and all. Since we have yet to discover another habitable one to live on, then it's probably best for all, if we take better care of the one we have. Sorry for the long intro, but what I'm trying to get around to talking about, is of course wind power. You do have a wind generator / turbine running at home don't you? Well if you don't, then why not? I have a buddy who complains too much about all the wind generators the government keeps putting up, because he thinks the cost too much money. Well, sometimes I think we need to make decisions not entirely based on money. Yep, that's right it's not all about saving money. Some times the planet trumps the bottom line. Wind generators are kind of cool anyway. They look so surreal when you see 10 or so in a farmers field. I'm not sure way, just kind of cool. Bird lovers don't like them, because apparently the birds are bright enough to fly around them. These are of course the same birds that find it necessary to fly right in front of a car when flying over a road. Not the brightest creatures . . . survival of the fittest and all. Wind power, it's the way to go.

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String em up!

Times are tough, we all know that, but we still need to play squash. Or tennis, or badminton, or racquetball, or whatever decent racquet sport it is your into. As sports go, racquet sports are not overly expensive to participate, but there are some costs. They always find a way to get you somehow don't they. I'm a big squash player, and with that one it seems to be racquet stringing. It seems like, every month or so I need new strings, and at $35 a pop, it doesn't take long, before I spend more on stringing a racquet then I actually paid for the racquet. There is a solution, but it requires a little up front cash, and a bit of time as well. You can learn to string your own racquets. For less than $500 you can get a pretty good stringing machine. If you buy your string buy the spool, and in bulk you'll be amazed how inexpensive it is. Less that nine bucks for a squash racquet for sure. There's a good web page with stringing machines, videos, and a few tips for how to look for the right machine. By the time you've done 12 racquets you should have made your money back. If you don't go through that many racquets, you could always string some for friends. If you play a lot, I'm sure you know plenty of people with racquets that need to be strung.

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Perfect Machine For A Big Job With A Small Budget

If you've got some heavy lifting work, that needs some serious muscle, but only have a small budget, than a skid steer may be just what you need. If your not sure, what a skid steer is, it's really the same as a Bobcat. It's like the miniaturized version of a bulldozer, backhoe, or front end loader. Plus a bunch of other stuff as well. With the right attachments, like an auger you could dig post holes for example. They're pretty amazing little machines, and if you take a drive by even a big construction site, your likely to see a few of them around. You can even rent them from many equipment rent-all places, if you don't have the money to justify buying one all right. eBay is full of used ones to, so this is always an option. You could probably even sell it after on eBay after the project is complete. There's a few good skid steer buying tips at that link. There's also a bunch for sale right from eBay. If you've never driven one before, you may want to get some lessons from someone who has, and practice a bit. They can be a little tricky. It's different from driving a car, as basically all the wheels or treads are independently controlled. That's how it's able to basically rotate in position.

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Get That Degree : No More Excuses

One of the biggest things that holds people back from doing more with their lives, is the same old excuses they use over and over. Well, it's time to put an end to all that. Furthering your education, and getting a degree is one of the best things you can do to improve your life. We live in an information rich age, and if you can't keep up with everyone's growing skill set, they you'll fall further and further behind. In these times of economic uncertainity, it's a better time then ever to go back to school. If your out of a job, chances are your old business sector is hurting. That's a message, that it's time to change. Learn something new. You can do it. One of the biggest challenges to getting a degree online, is family commitments. We're all busy with demands from family, spouses, children, siblings, and aging parents. But, an online education can make that challenge a little more achievable. I just read this article the other day, that had some great suggestions for both getting an education online, and spending more time with the family. It's a balancing act for sure, but one that's well worth it in the long run.

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What Can A GPS Pedometer Do For You?

It can do quite a few things actually. For one, it can keep better track, of your outdoor activities, whether they be running, biking, swimming, walking, hiking, or whatever. They can keep track of everywhere you've been, how fast you went, how many calories you burned, etc. They're really more a GPS, then a pedometer. If you remember what a pedometer used to be, it was a device that you attached to your belt, or belt buckle, and it kept track of the number of steps you took. A GPS pedometer is really a GPS, that has some nice features and software that caters to the outdoor enthusiast. It uses the same GPS technology, that Magellan, or TomTom use in your car or boat for giving directions, and making sure you don't get lost. It's also good for getting back to the starting line through the use of digital bread crumbs. This is really good, if your the type that get's lost easily in the woods, mountains, or cityscape. The pedometer unit also incorporates an ability to load all your comings and goings into your computer after your done. This is good for long term training, as you can track how much better your getting at whatever activity it is your participating in. The Garmin Forerunner is one of the more popular units to look at when shopping around.

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