Friday, March 1, 2019

2019 - So many changes. More on the way... hoping for the best.

So many changes since Eve left in 2017... I just didn't think to do any updates. Honestly... I'm not even sure if anyone reads these anymore... but I'll update it anyway. I have had an extremely busy year or so... often out in the field for a couple of months at a time... which was really taxing on me. I moved Carol (my second wife) here awhile ago... and she has been settling into the new life fairly well. At least my life (when I am home) has been more even keel.

Lots of work on the house

After Carol moved here I had to start doing work around the house... things had really fallen into disrepair as Eve was getting ready to leave and stopped doing things around the house. I had to replace much of the wood on the front where vines had dug in and rotted some of the lumber.

Carol working the garden.

Carol has been a trooper with doing garden work... really making some changes throughout the property. It has been great to have her here to help get things back on track. The yard looks so much different now... in some ways that is good, in other ways a big part of my former life has faded away.

I did a lot of field work in Arizona... and I saw some incredible views. Some of the trips were amazing... I got to go places that most people never see. Much of the equipment is high up in the mountains... sometimes half a day just to drive there. Sometimes... you just can't drive.

So it was a very busy summer in 2018... and the momentum continued into the fall. At times I worked 18 and 20 hours a day over a week at a time. I really had very little time for myself, to do things around the house, do videos, whatever. That was very stressful after awhile.

At one point Eve and I got together for a week in New Orleans as I tried to help her get her shop together... as nobody there would or could get her machines operational. So I took a week and went there to help her out. In New Orleans you are either "in the clique" or you are not.. and if you you are not... people are not about to do much for you. They will say, "Oh we should get together..." but no... not gonna happen. A fact I am well aware of having lived there almost two decades.

In the long run... her first year there didn't go well... she was hemorrhaging money and none of her equipment was set up. So perhaps I'm just a nice guy, an idiot, a dreamer... or all the above... so I went there to set things up and help her out. I still do love her and care about her... to a fault.

Eve's Garage
She really tried to make the place a home... but as nice as parts of it looked, without her machines she was unable to sustain her craft. We also had some good time together... we still love each other... just that she can't seem to make it work with me... and I'm not going to tear up my life to move back to New Orleans... I spent what felt like a lifetime there...

New Orleans Riverboat
Eve's Workshop
He has an incredible workshop... 30x30 feet... built to work on trucks. So I spent a few days getting her CNC machine other things in working order. It felt good to help her out, and it was nice to spend some time with her without any arguments or fights. I wish it could have been like this all the time.

I'll be honest... it was like we finally had the honeymoon that never happened... but it was a fairy-tale not really sustainable... it really pulled at my heart because it was what I wanted... to do things with her... to be myself... to be a romantic... all the stuff that makes me who I really am.

At one point... she thought that perhaps we could work something out... I could spend some time there in New Orleans, and some time at home in Austin. She came to Austin to talk with Carol... I was hopeful that perhaps somehow it could actually work out. Perhaps the two of them could get along and both get what they wanted... for Eve, independence and to do her art... for Carol security and a place that she knew was her home.

Eve and Carol
I was hopeful that things would work... most of the day went very well... but then it all fell apart. It is so very unfortunate. And sad. We have so much potential... I have things in common with both women... and both need me in their own way. But it is like fire and gasoline... they just don't mix very well. I really tried... it was a foolish endeavor... but then I suppose that I am a foolish dreamer at heart.

The really sad part is that it could work out... My first wife Terryann and I are great friends. Carol and her get along great for the most part. When Terryann has issues... her and Carol talk... and carol is always shopping for little things to cheer her up. So yeah... I thought that could happen with Eve. Sadly... it did not.

At Terryann's for Christmas
 Carol and I go there to Terryann for Christmas... we have a great time. It all works out. And in the summer, they come here and we go to the river. So I really wanted to work something out between Eve and Carol. It just won't happen... Eve neither likes Carol nor Terryann... even though both have honestly tried.

Eve's Booth at the Bethany Lutheran Church

Eve had her booth for the Christmas fair... same as in the last eight years... and needed help setting up and doing the event... so I was happy to come help her out... As much as I griped about it in the past... I really did enjoy showing off all her crafts. And we typically had a great time laughing and joking. I was happy that at least that did not come to an end... at least not this year.

Christmas Spirit
But after the event was over... we spent some time together... and it was just too difficult for her to handle. In her eyes... I should move to New Orleans into my own place... separate from her... and come to visit. But that is not how I imagine my life.

Sleeping in a separate bedroom... sure... I snore like crazy... but a separate house? At this time in my life? Pick up everything and move again? Pack up everything I own... relocate Carol again... take on all the finances associated with that.


Just no.

Great Friends
Carol loves it here and has made wonderful friends. She says it is the best time in her life so far. I work hard... and to hear her call for me to come down because she has made lunch... how could I not like that? I have a life that works for me. It is not perfect... but I'm not fighting nearly every day either. And people have told me that I seem much less stressed too.

We have a great little doggy now... and she makes life great... very loving. I mean... yeah... I miss the cats... but you know... I doubt they even realize I'm gone. They have Eve all to themselves... and you know... cats... right?

But yeah... I've had some rough times. My friend Mitch ended up moving to Hawaii this last year. As you may recall... he was the first person to come to me after Eve left... he helped me to start over. I doubt he will ever know just how much he helped me.

Jerry and Mitch at the river
I really miss him coming over to do some unusual project together... or just hanging out to make a GoPro video. It really saved me... kept me active. Between him moving, Eve leaving, and being on the road over 288 days... it took a toll on me... the stress of it all was nearly unbearable.

Chicken Parmesan at Nautilus Diner, Timonium  MD.
When I'm in the field all my rooms and meals are paid for... and when you look at the inside of hotel rooms for weeks on end... you need some comfort... unfortunately.. food... so the weight took a big hit... it jumped up about 40 pounds or so... and now I have to work it off. So yeah... rough year... and this year could go either way.

I'll stop for now... but hopefully it won't be quite so long until I do an update again.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Keep Positive... don't forget to have fun sometimes.

Going through some of what I have had to deal with lately... you need to stop once in awhile and remember to stop and have a good time. This video was taken last September... we only just got around to doing the edits.

This one is from Mitch Bergsma's channel... we sure had a lot of fun! I could barely walk the next day... but hey... you only live once... and bruses heal.

Get out there and do dumb stuff!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

May 30 - Trim The Trees - Reboot the Garden

While Eve was at the house, she liked everything to have a "natural" look... so basically I was not allowed to trim back the trees or underbrush. When she left... I decided to start clearing it away, and to remove those branches and plants that threatened to damage the fence.

Additionally, having an HOA to deal with... the green algae and dirt that accumulates on the outside walls, mailbox, and fence needed to be removed. I had heard people complaining on FaceBook that the managers have been issuing $100 per-week fines for not having it cleaned up... and my neighborhood was next on the inspection list.

I did some major tree trimming... and called on some friends to help remove a big portion of it. Unfortunately... instead of getting there in the morning... they came about 2:30pm... so we only had enough time for two trips.

I'm really hoping they can make some more... with the traveling I'm doing... I really don't want to come home to a bunch of notices and fines. If I have to... I'll call a landscape company and have them do it... but that is going to be very expensive. I'd rather help my friends with some money before dropping major cash to someone I don't know.

Well... I guess I'll have to see how it all plays out.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 19 - Cry, clean, and move forward day.

I woke up, looked around my room... which looks pretty much the same as it has for the last seven or so years... then I opened the door and stepped into what felt like a vacuum. It hit me pretty hard... pieces of trash and a former life scattered about.

My friend Mitch Bergsma offered to come spend some time with me... and I was so glad he did. I really needed to be with someone as I started over again... and he did an amazing job helping me to clean and make an otherwise empty box back into a home.

I still have a very long way to is going to take months to totally rebuild and get everything finished. Amazing how many little things creep in and effect you.

But as for getting started... I really needed to get my head in a better place... divorce and separation are hard to go through... good friends really do make it easier.

Thanks Mitch... I really appreciate you!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18th... Moving day

Today is a rough one.

The moving truck is here... and they are loading all of Eve's stuff to take it to New Orleans. Eve will be leaving, and my life will be changed forever. Again.

Eve started packing early in the month... the house slowly changed. Pieces of it's personality fading with every little bit. It was becoming less and less familiar every day.

Now today... everything changes... every minute it becomes more and more empty... more lonely.

One one hand a blank slate... on another... an empty shell of a former life.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 2017 - The Big Change

It's May 1st today... and in only 18 days Eve will be moving out to start a new life in New Orleans without me. It's surreal... one day I am traveling along thinking that I will be with this partner for the rest of my life... that at long last, I will retire and grow old with someone I care about.

Then, everything is suddenly in a state of change... my life as I know it won't be the same.

My surroundings once familiar are now hard to deal with... I have to work on not letting depression take over.

Eve is getting ready to go... to migrate to New Orleans. For her it is like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Being with me she became more creative... or more correctly I suppose, explored her creativity with more passion. Things went well until she discovered New Orleans... then no longer was Texas a viable place for her... and for me, moving there was not an option.

I lived there with my first wife Terryann... and for a short while with my second wife Carol. At the time I was very happy there... but now I have rivers to swim in, builders, creators, and supporters to allow me to be the person I want to be. Going to New Orleans just wouldn't be the same for me. And, as it was pointed out to me by Eve... she just doesn't have the same feelings for me as she once did. She wants to be friends... but as for lovers, mates, or even just living together... she feels that her creativity would be quenched.

I honestly wish her happiness... I am hopeful that she finds what she is looking for. It is hard to accept that no matter how hard I tried... it was never good enough. That I just could not give her what she needed here. When she saw this house, she fell in love with it... even though I didn't really want to live in an HOA, I thought... "This is really what she wants... and nobody has ever considered her needs first before."

My needs are pretty simple... I need a workshop and an office to call my own where I can think and work things out. Beyond that, everything else is trivial. So I thought I had finally made her dreams come true. It's hard to realize I didn't. That she would rather move away and start a new life than continue on this path with me.

At this point I can only work on looking forward, being a gentleman, helping her transition out, and staying focused on my work do that I don't get overly depressed.

The next two weeks I work hard... on the third week... my world collapses.

On the fouth week... I guess I start to rebuild.


A third time.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

October/September 2016 - Another Major Life change

I haven't posted on here in a very long time... the last year has meant a great deal of traveling. After Eve had her gallbladder removed, she underwent many changes. Unfortunately one of them was that she lost any desire to be with me as a husband and wife. She wanted to "just be friends"... to live together but interact only as I would with anyone else.

I thought this would dissipate... and I honestly tried to do for her what I thought she needed. I supported her artwork, I took care of all the bills for the home, and I pretty much tried to give her time to heal. I am only human... sometimes I got upset... tried to hold it in... but that never really works.

We would argue and fight... I would really try to get past it and "give her space"... but it never seemed enough, and I never quite got it right I suppose. One day, I made a post on FaceBook just saying what was on my mind, what had happened, how I felt. It was a stupid thing to do... and her daughter pointed it out to me... that it seemed like an attack more than anything else. I took down the post... but the damage was done. Eve never forgave me for that.

I tried for the remainder of the year to do the best I could, to give to her, to support her... but on Labor Day Weekend we went to lunch... I could see that she was not happy... and I tried to cheer her up. I asked her what was wrong... and she started to talk about how much she loved New Orleans... how much she wanted to be an artist there... how she was going to move there.

I had lived in New Orleans... and I had moved on... I like it here in Texas... I have my friends, my events, robotics groups, so much stuff to do. Swimming, in the river is something that relaxes me when I get upset... very important for my mental health. And I have tried for the last few years to get Eve to come with me... but she no longer takes trips with me... she stays at home and works on her crafts.

I noticed that she had said, "when I move" instead of "if I could move"... and I asked her about that... her reply was one that I was not expecting. She said, "I am not happy here, I am not happy with you. I don't want to be here, and I don't want to be with you. I want to be in New Orleans... that is where I am meant to be... I am going to sell my art there and make a living. I thought you would come with me, but I see that isn't going to work... so I am going to leave you and live there by myself."

I was not expecting that. I thought that we would be together forever... I honestly did.

I bought this house because Eve thought it was charming... it is, and we got a great deal on it... but still... I bought it for Eve... to show her I loved her enough to do anything to make her happy. I promised myself that no matter what... I would care for Eve and provide for her. And in my heart... I feel that I have always worked to do that.

In her heart, she feels that I am oppressive... unyielding... an angry man.
A man that even if I were to move, she can no longer live with.

I cannot change her mind, she will not forgive me of past wrongs. Her mind is fixed and she will move as soon as she finds the means. For her it means taking everything of hers to Louisiana, getting a house, and starting over alone. For me it means watching my love drive away, and leaving me with an empty house and empty dreams. To start over... the end of a third marriage... and at 56,  to an uncertain future, and to an empty and lonely house that was once a home.

She added so much here... her CNC, the sandblasting shed, her artistic ability and creativity, doing the craft fairs, the garden with the soft sounds of wind chimes. The whole charm of the home... all the paintings and photographs, her garden and landscape, and all the memories of all that we had done, starting over together... and now it is done.

I cannot walk down the stairs or through the yard without holding back tears. Every nuance... every memory. I don't hold the anger... or I try not to... I always try to start every day fresh. I suggested that perhaps she could get an apartment there... gather her sales orders... come home and work on them, then return. An unusual idea to be sure... but then we could retire together in the home we had built for each other.

But it is not to be.

I must get ready to face the next chapter of my life alone. Possibly the only thing in the world that really frightens me... nobody to lean on, nobody to console me, no more running downstairs to say, "honey...look what I created!" And even harder still... nobody to come up here almost evey new day and say to me, "look at what I made today!"

No smiling face in the morning ready to go for coffee... nobody to hold... nobody to share my everyday with. Nobody to argue with, to remind me to go to the gym... to live with me.

Wow... we got married the Christmas of 2013... so this is 3 years in... the shortest I have ever been married. And as a side note... DO NOT EVER get married on Christmas. For the rest of my life... every Christmas Eve... I will remember standing at the wind chime tree promising to care for her forever... every Christmas... every year.

I hope that I can get through this.

I must.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Update - October 2015

I have really been busy as of late... adding all sorts of new CNC skills, making changes, etc. I also migrated a lot of my CNC stuff to my main web page. This way, I can put all the CNC related stuff into one repository that people can find a bit easier.

Take a look: Hopefully, I'll have more interesting stuff here soon... it all depends on how busy I get at work.

I seriously doubt anyone is reading this... I mean... I think I got my last comment like 2 years ago. Oh well... it's a place to put down my thoughts I guess. Even if I'm the only one reading it.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Home Sweet Home - Installed the HOME switches and tested them.

I am really excited about today's post. I've had the milling machine since about 2001 or so... and this is the first time I have completely retrofit it with a full set of automatic homing switches. I got some magnetic sensors which are impervious to dust, moisture, noise, and all the other "stuff" that usually would interfere with being highly accurate.

I can now tell the machine to find "HOME" and it will automatically move to the proper locations... not only that... but it has an amazing accuracy of about 1/75,000 inch or so.

That's 0.00075 inch or about 0,01905 mm give or take... a piece of paper is 0.003 inch. (0,0762mm)

I was hoping to get it within 1/1000 of an inch... so I'm very happy with this!!!

Video - Home Sweet Home - January 6th, 2015

Be sure to leave a comment!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

CNC Stuff

I've been doing a few things since getting my CNC mill running again. A month or so ago my friend Mitch was saying that he had a gear on his scooter that he needed to get off. The problem was that it was seized up pretty tightly with no real way to hold the gear without damage while he broke the nut loose.

We took a bunch of photographs and such, made a bunch of measurements via email... and I cut a part. It was a horrible failure. So... when I had the chance, I went to his place and took more measurements, tracings, and pictures... then made a new part. I honestly totally forgot about it until I saw this post for this video...

So it worked... yeay!

I need to come up with a project so I can teach Mitch some machining... just because I think it would be fun to do.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Eve needs emergency gallbladder surgery

Last Monday we got up like any other day, and Eve said her tummy was really hurting badly.

She asked me to run to the HEB (local grocery) to get her some things to make her feel better. When I go back she didn't look so good... and she said she needed to go to the hospital. I figured she probably had something bad to eat, she thought she had an ulcer.

It didn't take long for them to realize that she had a huge gallstone and that her gallbladder was damaged beyond repair... it needed to come out.

The surgery went very well... but she was still having some issues... they ran some tests and determined that she had another stone which had fallen into the duct between her liver and lower digestive tract... she needed a second surgery to get that out.

To cheer her up, I made a little video for her...

The second surgery went very well... and within a couple of days she was able to come home. We were home about 1/2 hour and she decided she wanted to go grocery shopping... so off we went.

We are both glad things went well... she is still recovering, but she is already feeling much better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mill - First big project (In a long while.)

My friend Wolf came over last night... he wants to build a CNC machine from scratch. He wants to be able to cut foam with a hot wire... all under CNC control. He drew up the first couple of parts... one of which is a plate about 10x11 (254x279mm) inches made from 1/4 inch (6mm) aluminum.

The part as laid out in Aspire Software

When we laid it all out, we took into consideration the mill's maximum 11.5 inch movement in then Y-Axis... but we didn't account for the overall size of the sheet. So when we tried to move to the area for the outside cut, it would hit the mill. We had to make all the drill holes, then the inside cut.

For the outside, we had to cut the bottom, move the head forward, then cut the top. We learned to be more careful in laying out the parts... but we managed to get it all done in one evening.

Here it is on the milling machine... I have the inner-hole cutting file shown on the control computer. It worked flawlessly and finished the part nicely.

Wolf and the finished part.

We have several more to make... so we are feeling pretty good about the project so far!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's Alive! - After 6 years, the mill is back online.

It has been an eternity since I left St Louis to start my new life here in Texas. My milling machine was carefully packed in grease and sat for about 6 years in my old garage before I had the space and resources to get it down here to Kyle Texas.

I've been bringing the machine back slowly... doing it right.

When I first made the conversion to CNC back in 2001, I pieced it together as best I could... but there were a lot of things I wanted to do differently. This time... I took my time and worked out how to do each part properly. I want the machine to be capable of more than it was, I want it safer, accurate, and smarter. Right now it's better than it ever was... but I still need to add automatic home position, and error checking.

In the past, if a driver failed, I had to quickly hit the emergency stop, and figure out how to reset everything.  When I finish the new electronics, it will automatically stop and save it's position so I can make repairs and take off right where it stopped. (or one command line before that.)

But for now... I was making several weights for the iGlide when I noticed some were drilled improperly... instead of throwing them out... this was the perfect opportunity to test out the mill on some solid steel.

How did it do?

Take a look and see!

I think it's running very nicely.

Keep checking in... I'll be giving a tour of the workshop and showing all our additions and tools.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Milling machine Progress #2 - Getting the machine back online.

I bought a Dell Optiplex computer for $99 and wired up an interface for the milling machine. I also got the parts that I ordered in the last update... so real progress is being made.

Once I get the final axis wired up... I should be able to mill some parts. That could happen as early as tomorrow if I am up to it. Been working quite a bit lately... I may just want to take some time off to chill out. Guess I'll have to see how I feel in the morning.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Milling update #1A - Minor progress.

Just a minor milling machine update... I connected the PC and got the spindle (main 3HP motor) to come on/off under computer control. I also got the wet/dry coolant relay working under computer control. I'm running LinuxCNC:

I connected up the X-axis and started running tests on it... it was behaving badly... moving fine in one direction, failing in the other. Running okay at moderate speed but failing and stalling at low speed. I decided to try another driver so I pulled one off the A-axis. This time as soon as I touched the shaft it went nuts. (Actually a good thing.) It told me that there was a loose mechanical connection. 

I tightened the screw and it worked flawlessly... but I noticed the encoder flexing badly. I needed a shaft coupler...  they allow the shaft to flex slightly without changing rotational movement.

I looked at McMaster Carr and found one... $22 each... then decided to look on Amazon. found a better one... $6.35 each. I ordered 4 of them... but they will take 17 to 22 days to get here. 

(I can wait... don't want to... but it will be worth it.)

I also ordered 4 magnetic switches at about $7.50 each. These won't care if they get grease or oil on them... and will detect metallic objects up to 11mm (0.4 inch) away. I'll have to come up with some kind of mount... should keep me busy until the shaft couplers get here.

 I'll set them up as homing switches. It will allow me to have the milling machine automatically detect the end of travel and not allow someone to run the machine farther than it is designed to go. It hasn't had that feature before... but Eve's mill does... so now I'll have it too.
How many guys have to compete with their wife to have the better CNC machine??? 
Crazy huh?

 Next update should have more video... stay tuned!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 6th - Mill Progress #1 - Testing 3-Phase Power

Wolf came over today and helped me connect up the 3-phase power converter. Not only does this beast need 220 volts... twice what is normally found in an American household... but instead of one power line... one phase... and a ground line... this monster takes THREE power lines.

The converter makes the other two and feeds all three to the mill for power... 3 horse power in this case.

How did it go???

I think it went well!

Next up... set-up a computer and wire up the electronics.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Getting the Shop Ready - Making Changes

This weekend while Eve has been at work, I've been in the shop all day moving things around to make the place more usable. Even though there is now a massive milling machine in the heart of the garage... I was able to make more room for use to walk around and use the tools.

This is a view looking back at the rear wall. I have been doing some insulating so there is still some stuff on the floor by the Laguna mill. You can walk in the back door, have access to all the tools on the table, reach the supply shelves, and walk to the mill, grinder, lathe... and newest addition... refrigerator. 

I still have several boxes of stuff to go through... and likely I'll be selling/giving away more stuff. I need to turn this into a workspace where we can start making things for the Etsy page, craft fairs, etc. I also want to get to where my friends can come over and work on projects with me.

This is the view when you walk into the back door... nice wide isles... and you can actually reach everything. Still a bit cluttered... but I'm going to take a rest... see a movie,  and work on it during the week.

I'll add more when I make better progress. Looks like I may need to work on the air conditioner as the lightning strike seems to have taken it out as well as the Laser Engraver mother board. It also seems to have taken out the LED night nights and controller.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The mill has been successfully moved!

It's been five years in the making... but the milling machine is finally moved from St Louis to Kyle, TX. I'm really happy about that. I still have a great deal of work to do putting the electronics back together and getting it all calibrated. But overall... very happy and excited. It was an epic trip... we had delays, engine problems, and more delays... but all said and done... it's home.

I'll post more when I get the electronics up and the new computer loaded and calibrated. I'm hopeful to have some really cool projects in the near future. A special thanks to my friend Riley for all the help, putting up with me, and for doing a great job. I also want to thank Mitch Bergsma for loaning me a second GoPro camera to do the time-lapse videos... that really made the video great.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Moving the Mill - 3500 pounds, 890 miles - The big haul

It's moving day... we are pulling the mill from the spot it has been since 2002 and moving it 890 miles from Overland, MO to Kyle, TX.

Driving from IL to MO with the new trailer... nice view.

We needed to buy a new trailer because U-Haul won't allow the larger ones to go cross-country. Eve was very helpful in finding a great deal... I owe her a lot for that. So, $830 later... a new trailer.

The main body of the mill... the rest is in the truck.

The trailer is rated for 2,900 pounds (1315 Kg) but the whole mill and electronics weigh 3,500 pounds (1587 Kg) so we had to tear down the mill into "smaller" parts. Size is relative...  the motor alone is a "holy crap this is heavy" part... but compared to the "block-o-iron" that is the mill body... it's lightweight.

Seriously... did I just call a 75 pound (35 Kg) motor lightweight??

A 1989 truck pulling a 1987 milling machine... old school, epic, and awesome.

So the adventure begins... I'm in the hotel waiting for Riley to wake up... seems he needs more than 4 hours of sleep. (The slacker.... kidding!) But here was the mood last night when we finished loading up...

Hopefully we can get everything there in one piece... the trailer is 98% of it's rated weight. But they told me that it actually has a 3500 pound rating... but if they specify anything over 2900, it has to have it's own brakes. The trailer is fully refurbished... new bearings, wheels, etc. So... the adventure begins.  (It's the VERY LAST thing I had left in Missouri... whoo!)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Traveling Man - Lots of stuff going on...

I'm going to Virginia tomorrow... was supposed to go home, but I got a last-minute repair job call.

I know my boss is wondering why I groan a bit when I have to go from a programming job to a repair job... but I have my reasons.  When I program, I need a second monitor... so I have one suitcase with a monitor and my ever-present GoPro just in case I see neat stuff to video... and one suitcase with a week's worth of clothing and such.

When I go on a repair job, I don't need the second monitor... but I do need test equipment, spare parts, stuff like that... and my usual suitcase for clothing and such.

So what happens when I have to do both jobs on the same trip? 

I become Mr. Pack Mule.

Yes... each one of them is just under 50 pounds. MY original laptop is having issues... so I have it and my new one... plus the one for the test equipment... yup... three laptops. Gotta pull each one out and put it into a bin at security... that's gonna look like a small parade of trays with my shoes, phone, etc. I plan to get there early.

The Mill - The saga continues...

I tried to get the milling machine shipped next week... I raised the price, had an interested party, then all I needed to do was click "BOOK" and it would have been locked in. Before making it final, I asked if he could do the pickup between the 19th and 22nd because I would be in Missouri... He said he was broke down right now, and could I put the mill on a palette so he could pick it up tomorrow.

Just put it on a palette...

Well... IF I owned a forklift and could put it on a palette... I could put it on a trailer and take it myself. (Which is what I will have to do now.)  I never heard back from him again...

I just got a BID REJECTED message and that was it.

So... Plan-B.

I'll get some TX friends, buy an engine hoist... and do it myself. I think I see a YouTube video in the works. Yeah... pretty sure. More on this adventure later... I'm taking some friends to dinner to discuss when I get back.

Ya gotta plan ahead when you are going to move 3,200 pounds (1450 Kg) of equipment.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

A reflection of 2013 - posted a bit late.

I started writing this around November of 2013, but I never clicked the "Publish" button so it sat here until today, May 4th. Now I suppose it is a bit of reflection as as much as my thoughts for that time as it is still relevant; and I thought it should be included as part of my ramblings.

 In June I turned 53, and on my birthday, June 12th, my aunt Sandy Clark... my lifelong mentor, guide, and friend suddenly had a fatal heart attack and was gone. It reminded me that life is a temporary thing, a gift that we only experience for a relatively short time in the eternity of existence.

 I met a new friend around that time, someone who would become a big influence to me. He is a fellow YouTube videographer... and to put that into perspective, where I had 200 subscribers he had almost 80,000. His name is Mitch Bergsma, and this is his YouTube channel.

 He is very active whereas I found myself doing less and less. He motivates me, and I guess I inspire him when we build and create. It is an odd mix...he is 20 years my junior... but somehow it works. 

An example is when we went to Jacobs Well in Wimberly, TX. It's a very deep hole... 30 feet at the main column with a cave at the bottom. I would not have imagined myself free diving to the bottom... and yet I did.

I think we all need someone in our lives that does that... pushes our limits a bit more, drives us to be better in life.

I have found this drive and energy in Eve... we fight constantly... but in the wake of our arguments it forces each of us to look at things with a better perspective... and in the end, that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

I love her... honestly I do... and I'm hopeful that through it all we both become better people from the experience. So far, my life has been evolving each passing year... generally not as smoothly as I would like... but always for the better as we move through the years.

2014 - I got Married (again!) And the mill is ready to ship... what a great year!

Hello folks... is anyone really out there?

Lots has happened since my last post... I got married again... 3rd times the charm right?

Another big event is that I am now in a position to get my milling machine down from St Louis. As fate would have it... I needed to go to St Louis for work... so while here I prepped the huge machine for shipping.

Before Prep Work

 After Pulling the motor and prepping.

The machine weighs about 3,200 pounds (1450 Kg)... yes folks... that's 1.5 tons of fun. The garage door is 81 inches tall (2.05 Meters)... with the 5HP motor and Z-axis mounted... 95 inches (2.4 meters) it was NOT going to fit through the garage door. Taking them off just got it down to size.

78 1/2 inches tall. (About 2 meters)

Nothing about this machine is small... here is the power supply for the machine... it has a 220 VAC to 70 VDC system. I had it running from 115 VAC and was getting about 30 VDC for the motor drives... but on the reinstall, I'm going to go for FULL POWER and even higher speed. (Scary stuff.)

Power Supply

It took three of us to get the motor unmounted and on the floor safely... it weighs at least 60 pounds (27Kg) by its self, the biggest issue was getting the belt off the V-belt tension unit and lifting the motor off the mounting plate. (See below)

 Motor Mounting Plate

To do it, you have to stand on top of the mill, put a steel bar through some chain rings, then lift the motor while a second person uses a screwdriver to work the belt of the pulley. Then you and a partner have to lift it off and balance it on the head of the mill. The other person shifts position to the front of the mill, and you heft this motor up and over... handing it down to the two people on the ground to receive it. (Like I said... nothing on this machine is easy.)

Motor (Left) and Z-Axis (Right)

Afterward I decided to lay the Z-Axis on the bed and wrap with packing plastic to keep it from getting beat up. I wrapped the motor as well as possible too to protect the spring plate and pulley assembly too. 

All prepped and ready to go. Motor in foreground wrapped in plastic.

I manually turned the screws and cranks... still feels fine... everything still moves smoothly. I guess my packing EVERYTHING in a thick coat of grease worked well. Once I get it shipped home, I'll have to strip everything on the mill down, and while doing that, I'll rewire it and install new limit switches and other safety features. It's gonna be a HUGE project... so if you like machines... stay tuned.

 Hummm... I should do a video... or two.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Laguna Day - Eve Gets a New CNC Machine

Today was a big day here as we got a major shipment. Eve has heard me talking about CNC machines for quite awhile... and once she saw that they could be used for wood it didn't take long for her to realize that if she had one it would speed up the production of things she could make.

This machine has a water cooled spindle... that means it can run for hours without ever overheating. Getting it into the shop was a big deal... it was about 425 pounds (193 Kg) so I had to pull a favor from my buddy Wolf to get it in here.

Wolf also helped me get the shelves up for the controller and water cooling system as well as get it onto the table I built. We were able to get it completely set up and begin testing... very soon we should have video of it in action too. For now... here is Eve showing off her new machine.

The shop is really getting to a high level of completion... soon I'll be able to have friends over for classes and build sessions.

Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sitting in St Louis - 2013

Hard to believe it's 2013 already, and February at that. I'm assigned here in the St Louis area to do some programming for the local Police/Fire, etc. I've been here a week with one more to go. It was a good thing... as I wanted to get to my storage unit and see if there were any small items I could bring back, and perhaps get rid of a few things that I know I'll never use again. Looking at the little 10x15 foot space, it's hard to believe how much is still in there... some things were expensive, but purchased for another life that is no longer a part of me. I wish I could give someone local a key and have them sell some of the things... but everyone here has a life of their own. I'll do what I can... some will end up back in Texas, and I'll have to deal with it there... some will just end up in the dumpster. Friday is a meeting with the robot group again... I'll cram as much electronic stuff as I can into the car and let them pick through it... whatever is left will get tossed.

I got to visit with family and friends, even attend one of the ROBOMO robotics meetings which are now held at the Science Center near downtown. It was great to see the guys again... some of whom did not know that I was in town... I did a presentation just like old times, that was nice. Unfortunately, being at the Science Center... when the meeting was over everyone just went home. When we held the meeting at the library, afterward we would all go to the Chinese Buffet down the street for lunch and have a great time laughing and telling stories. I miss that. I will say that now in Texas I have that again... slightly different... we meet in the evening, so several of us (I all us the Rat Pack) will meet for dinner first... then hit the meeting. So I still get the comradery that I need.

I taught myself a new but familiar programming language... BASIC-4-Android. And to date I have created 3 applications and published two if them. One is a simple link that allows people to jump to my YouTube page... if anyone actually downloads it I'll be surprised... more of a test to see IF I could do it or not. The other may actually be useful to some people... it's DEAFCOM, written to help someone speak to deaf people. It listens to what you say, then converts it to simple text. I still need to figure out how the deaf person could easily communicate back... typing is a pain... and they usually can't speak... so I have a riddle to solve.

So... it's Sunday... it snowed last night and it's cold outside. I was going to hit the storage unit again and go through more stuff... but it's too damned cold and I just don't feel like it right now. I think instead I'll do some laundry and work on some video that I want to produce. I also am designing a new camera jib crane... so I have stuff to occupy my mind for the rest of the day... and it is kind of nice to just have a quiet day to myself.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

GoPro Hero 3 Black

Well this was an awesome Christmas... Eve went all out for me this year and got me a GoPro Hero 3 camera. If you don't know what that is... really? Are you serious? Then you need to go to and check it out. This thing is freaking AWESOME!

Not only did she get the camera... but also some premium accessories too... the battery backpack (and extra housing backs) allows me to take extended videos... even underwater. The LCD backpack let's me use it like a conventional camera with an instant view of what I captured... also with an underwater housing. This camera is so advanced that it has WiFi... this means that it has a remote control... I can put it outside of the car and control it from inside. If that wasn't kool enough... I can even control it with my Sprint HTC phone... including a video preview mode so I can see what the camera sees. How awesome is that?

This thing is TINY too...
2.31 inches (58.6 mm)
Take a look as compared to my other cameras...
Canon A590IS   -   GoPro Hero 3   -   Canon SX130
I have no excuses now... I need to make some killer videos! And as fate would have it... I may get my chance very soon. I have to do some mountain survey work... no roads... we have to go up by helecopter. So stay tuned folks... it could get interesting quick!

I'll do an update when the video is up... I can hardly wait. And yes folks... if we get a day above 70F (21C) then I'm going to the river to try this out under my favorite waterfalls! (I would have gone Christmas day... but I was in Houston with my family.)

There are a couple more items I want to get... the GoPole 24" so I can shoot from a distance... and a web-helmet mount because Mitch Bergsma highly recommends it and shows what it can be used for in his YouTube channel. (He has some great GoPro tips if you are interested.)

That's all for now!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Astrology Convention 2012 - New Orleans

It has been a crazy time of the year between the end of April and mid-June. Work has been extremely busy lately, we have a major client with a very high workload. Right in the middle of this I had planned to take a vacation of sorts. Eve does artwork that is astrology based, and this year there was a very large convention in New Orleans which occurs only every 3 to 4 years. The potential to make money was very large.

I say potential because we made a rather large investment in equipment, new laptop, travel expenses, art supplies, booking the convention center, etc. (Even the $3 tip every time you wanted the car... several times a day got old quick.)

We left Texas with high hopes of making a substantial profit... but so far... not so much.  The Chinese were very interested in her stuff and talked about reselling her work in China... if so, that could be just what we needed... so we wait.

New Orleans Trip

But hey... it's New Orleans... I used to live there... and Eve had never been there... so I just had to show her the sights and sounds of the city from Bourbon Street to the Audubon Zoo. Her daughter Jenny came down to visit so we all went out in the evenings and had a great time. Rather than tell you about it... let me share a video!

This video was co-produced by Eve, she picked out the music and took many of the pictures used in the ending. (Watch the whole thing... I think you will like it!)

 My Daughter and Grandkids

I got to visit my daughter Rebecca, her husband Jody, and my three grand-kids... with another on the way. I made a short video... but I was mostly playing catch and chasing the boys around... so i didn't take a lot of video... just a peek at the new house. (They were moving so Grandpaw Jerry helped with the washer and dryer... and chasing kids.)

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Eve's Been Busy

Eve has been very busy lately in her garden and around the house. She has been planting and landscaping  more than I have ever seen her or anyone I've known. She added a new workshop so that she could work on her sandblasting and her hypertufa. If you haven't heard of hypertufa, it is a mixture of Portland cement, pearlite, and peat moss. This makes something as hard as cement with only 1/3 the weight which is great for making things like this flowerpot.

She is really wanting to sell her new creations in the local craft fairs.  I'll put more of the craft stuff up later as she gets it ready... right now we are gearing up for a huge astrology convention in New Orleans so the other crafts have to wait. But let me show you around the house and garden a little bit.

Click the image above to see a HUGE version of it... over 3 MEG supersize.

This is the way the front of the house looks now. It was just dry dirt with a few sprigs of grass here and there only a few months ago. Eve doesn't like grass and doesn't like to mow... so she has vowed to transform the whole front lawn into a wonderland. And I believe that she has really accomplished it nicely. The biggest change has to be the back yard however.

It started off with just a few trees and a simple path to the garage. Over the last month or so she has totally transformed it. If your computer supports the Apple Quicktime plugin, you can take a complete 360 degree tour of what it looked like when her daughter Natilie was down last month here: CLICK ME

I just finished another complete 360 degree tour in even higher resolution so you can zoom in and really take a look around, here is the link for that page: CLICK ME

Here you can see Eve tending to her vines which should start to flower nicely in a couple of months. She has the garden planted so that there are flowers all year long. I do not recall a single day when there was not at least one plant blooming. She puts several hours per day into the care of the garden, and I really appreciate it and all the work she does.

The whole yard is a real wonderland... now we just have to see how it all handles the Texas heat and the drought. So far this year has been much better than last year... but things can change quickly here in Texas so we will watch and wait.

Thanks for joining us, I hope you will visit again on the next update too!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentines Day 2012

Usually most of us guys scramble to get our ladies something at the last minute. It isn't something we mean to do... it just happens. This year I did something a bit differently.

Right after Christmas I picked up some chocolate and put it in my closet, a week later I picked up a teddy bear. Every week i got some little thing and added it to my secret stash for Valentine's Day. The Monday before I had it planned... I usually go downtown for one of my clubs, so i would stop and get the balloons... then on the way back I would get the roses from our local store that is open until 1:00 am.

I got in just around midnight, and Eve was winding down for the evening. I decided not to wait until daylight but to surprise her right after Midnight... which was technically Valentine's Day.

I tied balloons to the stairway, set out all the goodies, and got everything ready. Then I called upstairs and said, "Honey can you come down here and help me with something?"

She was like... "Waaat... it's midnight!" I said, "Just for a minute!" She started out the bedroom and actually made it about half way down the stairs before she realized what I did. I managed to surprise her... something not too easy to do.

I took these pictures in the morning...

Now Mother's Day is on the horizon... guess it's time to start over again.