Thursday, December 1, 2016

I'm A Bike Guy Now

So I'm a bike guy now.  That right.  I bought a bike.  I'm going to go down the road with the wind in my oh so beautiful black hair. 

Of course, some of you may think I would look like this.

Of course, I have put on a few pounds over the years.  Some of you might think I look more like this.

I know some hot chicks will ask, "So you have a bike?  What kind is it?  Is it a Harley Dyna?"

"Is it the Honda Shadow Aero you always wanted?"

"Or did you get one of the new Triumph Bonneville's?" 

The truth is, I didn't buy a motorbike.  I bought a bicycle.  A Roadmaster Quarry Ridge 29.

To which the hot chick would reply, "What are you eight years old?"

Let me expound on this.  I have only had one bike in my life.  I let my sister's boyfriend borrow it when he lost his driver's license.  One day when he was returning home, it got a flat tire.  He "hid" it in the woods and planned to come back later and retrieve it.  By the time he did make it back it was already gone.  "Finder's keepers, Adrian's weepers."  Why he just didn't walk with it home, I'll never know.  He never told me.  My sister had to tell me after they broke up. 

So I wanted a bike.  I looked around but noticed a few problems.  Most men's mountain bikes had 24 or 26 inch tires.  A lot of the reviews said they were good for 14 year old boys, but not fully grown men.  I looked around some more, but realized I needed more information.  After all, I haven't had to look at bikes for over 15 years. 

I went to University Bike Shop.  I know they had been around a while.  I didn't realize it was since 1972.  I told the salesman named Rick that I didn't know anything about bikes, and he would have to talk to me like an eight year old.  His shop specialized in higher end bikes.  He had a lot of touring and really fast bikes. 

He asked me what my price point was.  I told him I had a bit of sticker shock in that, that bike over there cost more than my Ford Focus's blue book value.  After showing me the lowest priced new bikes, he asked if I was interested in a used bike.  I told him that since I was sure to crash into a few mailboxes, I would prefer a used bike. 

We went to a few places in the store.  He showed me a rack in the back, and there it was.  The bike that was just right.  It was a used Wal-Mart special.  A Roadmaster Quarry Ridge 29 men's mountain bike.  This one was big enough to handle my weight.  It also had 29 inch really wide tires.  That was important to me as this bike wouldn't turn on it's side when I rode it.  This one, unlike the bikes my friends had when we were kids, actually had front shocks on it. 

Admittedly, I paid a little more than I should have for this particular used bike, but there was a reason.  They set this bike up.  If I bought a bike, I would have needed it set-up, and that would cost $50.  So it was well worth it to me that they already had it properly set-up by guys who knew what they were doing. 

So look at it this way.  If I bought a bike on Craigslist for $40, I would have needed a $50 set-up.  Then I most likely would have needed to buy a few parts to replace any broken or worn parts on the bike.  That would have ended up costing me more than I spent on the bike.  Also, the bikes I looked at weren't as big as the Roadmaster. 

I mean, look at the size of that tire.  It's big and wide. 

Also, the bike has 18 gears.  That's 15 more gears than I need.  I was used to a bike with three gears.  I asked Rick if he had any bikes with just three gears.  He said, they don't make mountain bikes with just three gears.  Seriously, look at all these gears.

Also, look at the actual gears.

That's a lot of frickin' gears.  Rick told me to put it in third gear on the one side, and use gears, 4,5, and 6 on the other.  In other words, I'll use three gears.  Once I got home I took it for a ride.  And you know what?  I did exactly like Rick said, and it worked out just fine. 

I'll admit, I hadn't been on a bike in 15 years, and hadn't exercised in .... okay it's been a bit.  So a trip around the neighborhood was more than a little bit interesting.  The good news is that I didn't run into any mailboxes or parked cars.  I did have to yell at a squirrel to get out of my way.  He waited until the last moment to do so.  Furry rat.

My back is paying the price.  It's been giving me trouble for the last few years, so the bumps on the trail felt like giant speed bumps.  But I will hop back on the bike.  The first day is always the roughest.  Unless, the second day is.  In which case I will take it easy, and then work hard on the third day. 

I'm glad I have a bike and all, but unlike those motorcycle guys, I will never have biker chicks fawning over me.  That is my only regret.  That, and all those carbs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hunting Season: Snipe Island, 2016

So I made it back from hunting last week.  I have been able to think on things properly, and feel like I can put together a pretty good, although pretty long blog.  I had my computer up there, so I posted what happened to me the next day on Facebook.  So I will copy and paste what I originally posted, and then edit and expound on my thoughts. 

This year we didn't get to go on the quota hunt.  We all had things to do at that time.  So we had the week of Thanksgiving off, so my Dad (John L.) and our hunting buddy, John W. left on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  Due to attending school I left on Friday after class.

We didn't hunt at our usual place, Hickory Mound, which is 15 miles from the town of Perry, Fl.  We decided to hunt next door (to the west) at a place called Snipe Island.  Word had gotten around that the hunting was much better there.  It was also much easier to hunt that year, in that, they had not had rain for a while, and I could walk in my regular hiking boots there.  That made it nice as I have a nice broken in set of Columbia boots.

This is my post after hunting Saturday, Nov. 19th, 2016.  I wrote this on Sunday morning (Nov. 20th.) at 9:54 AM.

I wasn't able to post last night due to a series of strange happenings. First off, I shot a hog at 4:50 PM, but I just made it mad.  I didn't realize it at the time.  I thought I hit it, and wounded it.  I called Dad on the handheld CB, and it took him about ten minutes to make it over to me.  Although, a lot of that time was spent getting down from his tree-stand.

As I was in my tree-stand, I pointed Dad down the path to where I thought the hog was.  The path was about 40 yards from me, and brush blocked my view of where I thought the hog was.  Dad used his tracking skills that he hadn't used in years.  He ended up walking within 10 yard of it, and then.... IT FREAKIN' CHARGED HIM!!! No, I'm not making this up.

It was only 10 yards from him. Dad shot four times, and the hog turned tail. I saw it 150 yards away  running through the brush into the next county. Dad says he is okay. His pants need a good washing, but he's okay.  Again, I am not trying to pull an April Fools in November. A big 200 pound (most likely boar) hog tried to run over Dad.

And that's not the end of it. So we were waiting for our hunting partner John to come out of the woods. He comes out at his usual pitch black darkness time of night. But then he tells me that I saved his life.  I thought, "What?" 

Earlier in the day I showed him how to use his new personal GPS toy. Admittedly, he's still not quite up on electronics. But I plugged in the truck's location on his GPS, and showed him how to use it.
He was still kind of iffy on how to use it, but carried it with him anyways. When he decided to come out the woods, he took his compass out, and that's when he noticed it had come apart. In other words, no compass, and he's out there in the dark.  And this was the time of month where there was no moon.  It was, "you can't see your hand in front of you" kind of dark.

So he takes out his GPS, and he at least starts moving in the direction where the distance towards the truck is getting shorter. He ended up going through some dense woods, but he made it to the truck.  Once he got to the truck he thanked me many times.  I don't think he's ever done that.

So it got down to 29 degrees last night (from Friday night to Saturday morning,) and with it being a late night for all of us, we decided to sleep in this morning. There was no way I was going to be able to get Dad and John W. out of bed at 5 AM with it being 29 degrees out. So we decided to sleep in.

And you know what? I still woke up exactly at 5:00 AM. On the dot. Exactly. But I did manage to go back to sleep. Now I am up and about. We are going to go order breakfast at Poncey's Restaurant.
I told Dad that, "Only winners get breakfast," but he said we needed to eat so that we could go back out there, and bag something.

I'm still feeling a bit depressed. In my life I have shot 5 hogs. I recovered 3 of them. One was so big, I probably just torqued it off, and the other was this one. I hate wounding an animal, and having it run off like that, but it has happened to every hunter.

So I will get back out there this evening. I will say this. This place we are hunting this year, (Snipe Island,) is full of game. I saw a man take a hog out on a trailer it was so big.  It looked like it was part bear.  It was a true 300 pounder.  And another hunter, Zack, who is hunting the same area as us, managed to take out a 6 point buck. So there is a lot more game here than at Hickory Mound.

Okay, let me hunt down some breakfast. I'll be careful out there. Take care everyone.

I managed to get back to my computer that night, Saturday, Nov. 20th, 2016 at 9:35 PM.

I'm back at the camping trailer tonight. Today we slept in, and still ended up with a late start to the evening hunt. I did manage to see a bird of prey. It was bigger than a red shouldered hawk, but smaller than an osprey. It was diving through the trees so I didn't get a good look at it. I'm not sure what kind of bird it was.

Dad did see a few owls, and we both had squirrels acting.... well squirrely. They were throwing stuff all over the place including at palmettos.  And when the acorns hit the palmettos the sound would carry through the trees like crazy.

We will start out a bit later than we usually do in the morning. It could have something to do with it being 31 degrees in the morning, and not being able to drag the retired folk out of bed in that weather.
So we are planning to really put a lot of time in the woods tomorrow. I don't know when I will be able to check back in. So if you send me a message give me time to get back to you. Take care.

Here's my post from the evening of Monday Nov. 28th, 2016 at 9:56 PM.

Today was a weird day. Here's what happened.

I used some cardboard to check my gun's shot pattern. I have some older shells that didn't really pattern too well. That's strange since they are Remington shells, and my gun is a Remington 1100. It usually shoots Remington shells well. I shot some newer Remington shells, and they didn't pattern that well either.

The other thing was that they sounded underpowered.  I tried some Winchester shells I had, and they patterned the best of all of them. They also had more kick (power.) So I am using those Winchester shells for the rest of my hunt.

This leads me to think I just flat missed the hog. But I'm still not sure why it laid under the palmetto bush instead of running. I wonder if I hit it in a place where it stung it, but not hurt it.

We had a late start to the day due to being up late yesterday. As we were driving we had two does jump the road 300 yards away. Where we were driving through was still private property on each side of the road. We hadn't made it to the hunt area quite yet.

Nothing happened in the morning, and nothing happened in the evening. Dad and I planned to get out of our treestands at 5:30 PM. At 5:28 PM I heard all sorts of racket. I thought a turkey and a squirrel were going at it. I called Dad on the walkie-talkie, and as I was doing so, I saw an owl come out from where I had heard the noise.

It landed within 15 yards of me, but high up in a tree. It was amazing. I was talking to Dad when all of this happened. I told him to hang on while I got my camera. I managed to hoist my bag up, get my camera out, and power it up. However when I looked down to power it up, the owl flew somewhere else. I would have loved to have gotten film footage of it.

(Sidnote:  I found out later that the owl was a Great Horned Owl.  Their color patterns can vary from brown to grey.  This one had a lot of grey on it.   It was also very tall.  It was probably the bird of prey I saw the day before.  It looked a lot like this one.)

So Dad and I are making our way down the trail to get to the truck. The squirrels start making all sorts of racket. I hear the woods just come alive. It's now about 5:50 PM. I hear some rustling, and look over to see!!!!...... an armadillo. So we keep walking.

We are about 75 yards from the truck when I hear another loud crash and bang in the woods. It's so dark I can't really see anything. Whatever it is, is making a lot of noise. I almost wondered if it was another hunter it was making so much noise. I looked around for a hog, but couldn't see any movement.

I slipped my tree-stand off my back, and walked into the woods. Whatever it was stopped moving. I suspected it was another armadillo. I couldn't see anything by this point. It was 6:00 PM after all. So I made it back to the trail.

That's when I heard yet another crash. Dad saw it immediately. This time, to the right, was two giant birds ( I believe they were vultures) rising out of the treeline. What I think happened was that they had sat on a dead branch, and it broke, then fell onto a palmetto making a racket. The birds took off in flight. So we continued onto the truck.

We then drove down the road to pick up John W. We told him of our strange happenings, and he told us that not much had happened to him.

Once we made it to Highway 98, Dad started noticing deer on the road. I thought he was having fun with us, in that, I hadn't seen them. But then, I started seeing them. One after another after another. I think I had counted up to 15 deer (all does,) before I thought to get my camera out. Of course, then there were no more deer.

So we decided to eat at Poncey's Restaurant. It has amazing food, and that small town feel to it. I am still stuffed.

So I have one more day of hunting tomorrow. Let's see how it goes. I am wearing the pair of pants I hate the most in hopes that I get blood (not mine) all over them.
Take care, Adrian out.

My next post was on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016 after I had made it back home.  I wrote about what happened on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd, 2016. 

So here's the weirdness that was yesterday's hunting adventure. We got up late since I couldn't get the older men out of bed at a normal hunting hour. Also, it was just too cold for them. In all fairness it did go down to 29 degrees.

So nothing really happened during the morning hunt. We went to a new place in Snipe Island.
During the afternoon hunt, nothing happened.... until 5:10 PM. I heard a gunshot, and thought it was our hunting partner John W. shooting at something.

At 5:28 PM (2 minutes before we were supposed to get down from our treestands,) I hear all sorts of racket. I stand up, turn around in my treestand, and look over to see what's going through the woods. I could hear it, but not see it. I suspect it was yet another armadillo.

So we get down, and head to the truck. Just 50 yards from the truck, I hear a noise. I turn to my right, and it's a .... possum. Dad says I can't shoot it since it's my spirit animal. It runs down a hole, and we continue onto the truck.  Dad is correct about that. 

Dad and I were at the truck when two men walked up to the truck next to us. I immediately got a weird vibe from them. They never looked at us. They never said hi. One guy threw his loaded rifle in his truck, ripped off his orange, and jumped in. The other one did unload a shotgun, put it in the back, and jumped in the passenger side.

They then fired up the truck, and took off a little faster than people do when driving on a dirt road. I almost thought they peeled out. Either way, they got the hell out of there.

I asked Dad if he thought they were acting strange, and he said he thought they were creepy and acting very suspicious. Dad asked me if I remembered what kind of truck it was, what color it was, and what the license plate number was.

I got on the CB, and start asking if John W. was on the air. He was supposed to check in with us at 6:00 PM, and it was now past six.

I keep trying John on the CB, and am getting no reply. Dad and I decided to go down the trail (we had never been down,) and search for John. It was pitch back, and we had only our radios and flashlights looking for him.

We were worried that the gunshot was one the creepy guys killing John, and then getting the hell out of Dodge. Think about it. A single shot from John's direction. Two creepy guys acting creepy. And then John isn't on the radio.

At 6:30 PM, I see a light down the trail. Thankfully, it's John. I ask him why he wasn't on the radio, and he says that, "We didn't agree to do that today." Sidenote: John has the worst memory of anyone I've ever met.

I told him about what went on, and he completely dismissed my feelings and told me that I was jumping to conclusions. I got pretty pissed off. Even after I calmed down over an hour later, and explained everything again, he didn't get it. I got angry again.

I keep trying to explain that I was actually concerned for him, and he just doesn't get it. He can not see something from someone else's point of view. He never has.  So I'm kind of glad that hunting season is over. I think it went on long enough. Any more and we were just going to end up annoying each other the rest of trip.

Conclusion:  So, I've had a chance to think it over.  I know I'm a bit quick to anger and a bit quick to suspect bad things.  I wish John had seen things from my point of view, but I can't make him.  I wish we would have had more days to hunt, or at least be able to participate in the morning hunts more.  I really wish I would have killed that hog.  But that's why they call it hunting, and not getting. 

After looking at shot patters of shotguns on the internet I think I am going to have to use a rifle out hunting.  In fact, I am talking to the local gun store about trading in for a Ruger RAR in a .308.  It's a no-frills workhorse with a synthetic stock.  I can knock it around in the woods and get it dirty. 

One thing that we did that we hadn't done before was get a group picture.  Since one of us had to hold the camera we never took a picture with all three of us.  So this time we had the check station manager take a picture of the three of us.  I'll leave this post with this.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hunting Season: Time To Paint The Treestand

Every year hunting season sneaks up on us.  In fact, this year we aren't even going on the quota hunt.  Since everyone's schedule opens up during Thanksgiving, we decided to go for a few days then. 

But every year it's a rush.  Oh goodness, we need to check the tires on the trailer for dry rot!  Oh no, we haven't practiced shooting a gun in two years.  Oh, where are all the cooking items, coolers, maps, licenses, etc.

I did happen to remember one thing I needed to do.  I needed to paint my treestand.  I've had it for a while, and it's gotten chipped and dinged up over the years.  I just don't want the places that have been chipped to reflect sunlight.  That would definitely give away my position. 

I've found that the most important thing about painting treestands is breaking up the pattern.  You could use the classic black, brown and green colors, but if the pattern isn't broken up, you are going to stand out. 

As far as color, I try to paint my stand in a mud and leaf type color.  I put my tree up in various types of trees; oaks, pines, palms, and maples.  All of them are a little different in color.  So I aim for a background of black and green, and then break it up with lighter colors. 

Here are the after photos.  If the paint looks glossy, it's because it is still wet. 

The piece on the left is where my feet go.  The piece on the right is where I sit. 

It's a little muddy in color.  I also tried to get it close in color to a pine tree.

Here you can see the backpack straps.  That's one nice thing about this treestand.  It folds up, and I can carry it on my back.  I actually used some orange to make it look like I have moss and lichens growing on my treestand. 

This piece has a lot of padding on it, so there wasn't much to paint.  I mainly did touch up on metal that was dinged. 

I know it's hard to tell, but the part of this piece of the treestand is where I put my feet.  Namely, the part that is facing the camera.  Since this side wouldn't be seen by anything, I didn't get too creative with it.  I just made sure the dings were covered, and broke up the pattern.

The base of this part is where it grabs the tree  (toward the bottom of the picture.)  So the paint gets roughed up the most around there.  So, I had to touch up a lot of bare metal there. 

I'll let this dry overnight, and see what I think of it tomorrow.  That's the good thing with paint.  If I don't like the job I did, I can just go over it with more paint.  However, I feel pretty good about the work I performed.  I think it's going to be just fine. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

One Hump Or Two?

My name is Adrian, and I come from a long line of smartasses.  It's true.  I don't often crack jokes or insult someone, but when I do I get my money's worth.  I also kind of got in trouble at school for a slightly racist joke/insult/comment.  Let me start at the beginning.

In my HVAC class is a man named Ahmed.  He is from Jordan, and speaks with an Jordanian accent.  He also smokes very strong Marlboro Reds.  I have occasionally commented about not being downwind of him when we are outside because his cigarettes are so much stronger than other brands. 

Something else I want I to make sure is known, is that, our class consists of 15 men of various ages.  And like a lot of blue collar, as well as young guys, we constantly rip and insult each other.  Honestly, male humans never outgrow this stage.  Pretty much anything and everything is fair game. 

I mean, even our instructor kids Ahmed about being the "old man" in class, demands to see his AARP card, and rips Ahmed about his balding hair.  Ahmed was in the other HVAC class until he got sick.  So he transferred to ours so he would have enough credit hours to graduate.  Now, he has kidded around with everyone, in both classes, about anything and everything.  I want to make sure this is known so that, when I tell what happened it adds history and context. 

On Wednesday it was near the end of the day, and all but about four guys had wandered off.  Our instructor, Raul, asked where Ahmed was.  Since I am full of pop culture goodness, I said, "Smokin!!!" in the style of Jim Carrey from the movie, "The Mask." 

Now, I know the movie, "The Mask."  Everyone knows the movie, "The Mask."  However, Ahmed is from Jordan.  He doesn't know that I am referencing the movie, "The Mask."  He happened to be around the corner, and thought I was making fun of him. 

So he says, and might I say, in a strong Jordanian/Arabic accent, "My name is Adrian, all's I do is talk guitars, music, and entertainment." 

So I kid with him, and he kids with me.  Is it a day that ends in the letter "Y?"  Yeah, it's par for the course. 

I reply, "Well, I could talk about the fine art of making love to a camel, but I don't know anything about that."

That's when Ahmed lost his shit.  And might I say, his accent only got stronger as he got madder.  He started yelling, "Fuck, fuck, fuck this guy!  Fuck this guy!  Talking about making love to a camel!  Fuck this guy!" 

Now my co-students Gabriel and Fabian started laughing hysterically.  Not so much as what I said, but because of Ahmed's reaction to me.  Ahmed complained to Daniel, and Daniel said, "Oh yeah, Adrian went too far."  Which only made Gabriel and Fabian laugh harder.

Our Instructor, Raul, said, "Yeah, let's not go there."  He was trying to calm the situation down.  I can't blame him.  I know I had pushed some buttons.  So I lay off, and keep my mouth shut.

Ahmed starts telling Daniel that, "He (Ahmed) was balding, but at least he didn't have a stupid thing sticking out of the back of his head."  He was making fun of my hair in a ponytail.  I let it go.

So the day ends, and I let go home with no further incidents.  The next day I arrived to school early, and saw Ahmed on the benches outside.  I walked up to him, and told him I apologized for what I said yesterday.  He told me, "Save your breath.  I don't want to hear it."  I tried to say I was only trying to joke with him, but he then actually walked away from me. 

So I figured he wanted some space, so I gave him some.  I did mention to our Instructor about what happened, and that he probably shouldn't put us together in a study group any time in the near future. 

So it does make it a bit awkward at school.  I just ignore him mostly.  The funny thing is, I never got to ask him one question. 

Does he prefer his camels with one hump?

or two?

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Voodoo That You Do

Last year I wrote about putting wheels on one of my speaker cabinets.  It's the cabinet that I pair with my Crate Blue Voodoo.  Here's the link to it:

The Crate Blue Voodoo was the first 6L6 amp that I really liked.  I can hear the cork sniffing musicians yelling, "Then you must not have very good taste!"  I liked the Blue Voodoo for a different reason than a lot of players.  It was meant to be a metal amp, and was endorsed by punk and metal artists so that's what most people think of when they mentioned. 

I was looking for a Fender sound with bite.  Fender amps have that classic American rock sound, and I wanted that with an edge.  The Blue Voodoo can do that wonderfully, but only if you do a few things.  The first edition of the Blue Voodoo cabinet came with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers.  I'm not a fan of those speakers, but they were a great match for the Blue Voodoo.  The Blue Voodoo has a strong treble end, but lacks in mids and bass.  The Vintage 30 speakers have really fat mids so it filled out the sound. 

The big thing I keep reading on guitar forums is players asking if it sounds like a Marshall.  I wish I could yell at them, "NO!"  A majority of Marshalls use EL-34 tubes which are different than the 6L6 tubes.  Marshalls are known for the "British" sound, and 6L6 based tube amps (Fender) are known for the American rock sound. 

One of the biggest factors in adjusting the sound of a Blue Voodoo is pairing it with the right speakers.  Like I said, it has a lot of highs, but lacks mids and bass.  So I decided to pair it with an American sounding (Fender type) speaker instead of a Celestion (British) sounding speaker.  The American sounding speakers are smoother, balanced, not as bright, and have a medium breakup.  They would help me achieve my goal of having a "hot-rodded Fender" sound.

I found where Carvin was having a blow out sale on their "Vintage" speakers.  Their "Vintage" speakers were basically their version of Eminence "American" voiced speakers.  So it was exactly what I wanted.  I ordered four of them, and installed them in an old Laney cabinet.  I played a few different heads through the cabinet, and it sounded great immediately.  The Blue Voodoo paired awesomely with these speakers.  A lot of speakers need time to be broken in, but these were great right out of the box. 

But my sound wasn't perfect.  I had problems dialing in my sound.  Either the amp was too clean, and then it went straight into angry bee sound without any breakup in-between.  And that in-between is my sound.  I want it to sound like a "hot rodded" Fender.  I don't want to go into heavy metal territory.  If you ever heard Lynyrd Skynyrd live, that's the kind of sound I was going for. 

I was watching a YouTube video on things you could do to make your Fender amp sound better, and they talked about something I hadn't really heard before.  Pretty much all amps use 12AX7 pre-amp tubes.  They are the crunchiest pre-amp tubes available.  However, that doesn't mean they are musical. 

I was reading about other pre-amp tubes that could be used.  Namely, the 12AY7 had a lot less gain, and would allow a player to have a wider selection of gain.  It would also keep the amp from being too loud at lower settings.  Most players know what I mean.  On "1" the amp can barely be heard.  On "2" it's blowing out the windows.  The 12AY7 would still allow you to be loud.  You would just have to turn your amp volume up to "5" instead of "2." 

Most musicians know that feeling when the volume difference between "3" and "10" is nil.  It's annoying and doesn't help you at all.  By replacing the 12AX7s with 12AY7s you can have more useable gain and volume.  However, that's not the only benefit of the 12AY7.

The 12AY7 is also a more "musical" tube.  It has more warmth, and it's as harsh as the 12AX7.  It's also has a "fatter" tone, something that my amp needs.  Again, since the Blue Voodoo has a lot of treble, but lacks in mids and bass, the 12AY7 is perfect.  It dials back the treble, and boosts the mids and bass.  In other words, it's balancing the amp out while helping to take out the fizziness and sterile sound that a lot of players complain about. 

So I decided to replace the tubes.  I won't go into the technical part of it, but the first pre-amp tube is the most important.  The gain comes from it while the other tubes "mirror" it.  However, the Blue Voodoo has four pre-amp tubes instead of three like most amps.  So I decided to replace the first two pre-amp tubes with 12AY7s. 

Luckily, the Blue Voodoo is easy to work on.  Just remove four screws, and the back comes off.

In go the pre-amp tubes.

Now I plug in and test her out.

I have to say, it took a bit to dial in "my tone."  On channel 2 (the gain channel,) I had to max out the bass since it was so weak.  I'm not a guy who usually uses much bass, but just to balance it I had to max it out.  I also had to boost the mids.  Luckily, I didn't have to boost them as much as I had before.  I dialed the treble back to four, and that seemed to be the right spot for it.  I put the presence knob right in the middle at 12 o'clock.  I could still get harmonics, but not be too bright.  Adjusting the EQ like that lead to a pretty balanced sound.

Next I adjusted the volume.  I could actually put it on "3" without it taking my head off due to the decibel level.  I played with the gain, and found I could get all sorts of rock n' roll sounds.  It just depended upon how crunchy I wanted it.  I have to say, I got it right where I wanted it.  I ended up playing it so much I drove everyone from the room. 

I then tested out channel 1 (the clean channel.)  The new tubes made a huge difference on the clean channel.  When you read reviews about how the Blue Voodoo is a "sterile sounding" amp, the clean channel is where you can really notice it.  However, the 12AY7's livened up the sound as well as helping with the warmth.  I think channel one was actually helped more than channel 2 by the tube change.

I'll admit, I am considering changing the other two pre-amp tubes to 12AY7s.  I don't know if it would change the sound much, but I'll admit I am a bit curious.  But I have to look at the big picture.  I am happy that I have been able to adjust the overall sound of the Blue Voodoo to "my sound."  Although I have to admit, I don't really know of any places you can really play a 100 watt head through a 4X12 cabinet anymore.  It's all coffee shops and small clubs.  Even if I can't play out with it, I can still have fun with it around the house. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bad Luck Windshield, And The Best Way To Ruin A Saturday, Part 2

To understand this post a little better read Part 1.

So the good news is that my back windshield is fixed.  The repairman from Safelite Autoglass Repair was a really nice guy, and knew what he was doing.  I really recommend using them to repair your automobile.  They've done a great job for me a couple of times.

I first reported the broken windshield on a Saturday.  Since my vehicle is older, and the station-wagon model, I knew it would take a while to get the replacement glass ordered.  However, they said they would have the repairman out on Wednesday.  I couldn't complain about that.  That was actually quicker than I thought it might take. 

Here's the finished work.

I knew this windshield would be a pain in the butt due to it having the heat strips.  But I have to say, I tried them out the day after installation, and they worked just fine.  Again, I have to give many thanks to Safelite Autoglass Repair. 

Since I can't afford to buy a another car, I have been trying to keep this one in as good a shape as I possibly can.  I don't plan on breaking anymore windows, but if I do, I know who to call. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Ironbark Eucalyptus Tabletop Project

I've been working on a secret project now for a couple of weeks.  There's a good reason why it has been a secret.  You see, two lovely gals I know decided to open their own hair salon.  However, they needed to keep it, "hush, hush," so they wouldn't get fired from where they were working.  They needed a desk for their salon and were experimenting with turning an old TV cabinet into the main desk. 

So they called me for help since I'm a woodworker.  They wanted to know how they could modify it so it didn't look like such a TV cabinet and more like a professional desk.  I went over there, and told them since it was made of particle board and layered wood, you couldn't really sand it, dye it, or modify it that much. 

That's when I came up with the bright idea of making a natural edge tabletop for it.  They asked, "Wouldn't that be a lot of work."  I'm like, "Naw, it's not as much as you'd think."  Of course, I was lying out my rear end because of ...... girls.  You know, us men get our fake muscles and stuff around pretty gals.  So I said with conviction and a Viking sword raised to the roof (okay, there was no sword,) that I would build an awesome natural edge tabletop to sit upon the cabinet.

So now, I had to put my woodworking skills where my mouth was.  This meant I had to run to Dad since I'd never actually built a tabletop before.  However, he has been involved in building a number of them.  So the first step was to actually get some wood.  Dad talked to his buddy Pete at Viable Lumber in St Pete.  They went through Pete's warehouse to see what kind of dried wood he had.  It turns out he had two pieces of Ironbark Eucalyptus.  Here's what they looked like when I got them.

They had actually had a few years to dry.  The bad news was that they had warped badly while drying.  So that meant I was going to have to cut them down by quite a bit to even them out.

So I brought them out on my driveway and started to work on them.

There were two different ways I could join the pieces together.  I could do it the easy way, and make the edges straight like boards, and then glue them.  Or, I could follow the natural edges of the wood, and join them like that.  However, that would be much more labor intensive.  But, it would look much nicer, and more original.  It would also allow more of the wood to be saved.  We decided to follow the natural edges and join them there.

So we rough jointed the edges, and then went to work on running the pieces through the thickness planer.  This, of course, led to other problems.  Namely, the gripping paper tore.

To make a long story short... We got the planer to working, and found out that the pieces of wood were too big to fit through it.  So we had to do all the work by hand.

Luckily, we had just bought an electric hand planner.  That way I didn't have to use tools that Noah would have had to used. 

Here's what it looked like after a bit of cutting.

My next job was to get rid of all that bark.  This time I had to do it the old timey way.  That being, with a hammer and a chisel. 

So now came the time to keep on planning the wood.  After I planed it evenly, I put water on the wood to see what it would look like when finished.

Then it came time to join the two pieces of wood together.  This meant we had to take a grinder to the edges and join them up as best as possible.  You know the secret to it?  Chalk.  Really, look at the pictures.  In the third picture down you can see Dad grinding the edges of the wood.

The next thing we did was flip the pieces of wood upside down, fit the wood together, and clamp it in place.  Thank goodness we have such large clamps.

On the underside we screwed in support beams.  These would help hold the wood in place while we epoxy it. 

Here's the topside of the table with once it was braced.

Next up was the epoxy.  We mixed it with the wood shavings from this very piece of wood.  We also made sure the epoxy was dark, so that it would make artistic streaks in the wood.  But you'll see that later.

After the epoxy dried it was time to sand it.  Luckily I didn't have to sand it by hand.  We had a rotary hand sander.  It made sanding so much easier.  And let me tell you, that epoxy was hard as concrete. 

As I was doing this, we flipped the table so that the underside was up.  That way, we could remove some of the bracing, and add metal braces on the ends.  I cleaned up the epoxy on the underside with the sander as well.

Now back to sanding the top.

I do want to remind my readers that this blog is the "short" version of what happened.  In-between all these photos were a lot of planning and sanding.  In fact, there were many, many hours of it. 

Now it came time to put a finish on it.  Dad decided on polyurethane due to it being easy to work with, and it being a durable finish.  Since this desk would be used every day, it needed to hold up to the rigors of a working environment.  So here's what it looked like when the first coat went on it.

Here's what the epoxy filled gaps looked like.

Pretty nifty huh?  And to fast forward, here's what the wood looked like on the final finish.

Since this was planned to be a natural edge, rustic looking tabletop, we didn't put a lot of finish on it.  It had enough to look glossy, but not too much to look shiny. 

It needed to dry for a couple of days, but after that we took it to the gal's shop to be fitted to the cabinet.  I will fast forward here, but we altered the cabinet, and fit the tabletop to it.  That took a few hours, but was well worth it.

After we had done our part, the girls had planned to have metal wrapped around the cabinet.  That way it would match the rest of the shop, and have a rustic look to it.  Here's the final product.

If you want to see the desk, or get your hair done, you can find it at Revolution Hair, Co. in Tampa, Fl. 

The good news, is that, many unsolicited comments have been given about the tabletop/desk.  Everyone loves it, and wants to touch it.  They say it has a very nice touch since it is so smooth. 

I'm glad Dad and I were able to deliver on the tabletop.  It was a harder project than I thought due to having to use hand tools instead of running it through the planer.  But in the end, the tabletop came out better than I thought it would.  The girls are extremely happy with it, so that's the important thing. 

Will I ever make another one?  Well, if I do, at I have some experience making one.  And I know what I'm in for if I decide to undertake another project.  I'm happy that I can add this project to my woodworking resume.  I think it makes me a more "well-rounded" woodworker.