Monday, May 23, 2016

New Amp Day: I've Got The Blues

I've got the blues, but not in a bad way.  I now own a Fender Blues Jr. 3 combo amp.  I have wanted one for playing out at coffee houses and small venues.  Here's the pictures:




So this leads to the question, "What did you pay for it?"  Well, they had it overpriced at $399 used.  Two amps down they had a new one for $529.  Due to it saying "Fender" on it, they have always been overpriced.  However, I decided to do some wheeling and dealing.
 

The truth is I have too many guitars.  So I am guitar rich, and amp.... well okay, I have a lot of amps too.  But I wanted this particular one for a few reasons.

  • It has a three band EQ.  So many small amps don't have a mid setting.
  • It has a nice little reverb unit build in.
  • It has a nice gain to it.
  • It's 15 watts, so it's perfect for small venues. 
  • It has a 12 inch speaker.
  • I can easily perform modifications on it.

Speaking of mods, there are a few mods I have in mind for this amp.  There's a few kits on the market that I am thinking of installing.  This amp is pretty clean and crisp, so there's one that turns it into a blues monster.  There's also a mod that adjusts the reverb so that it will sound better.  Finally, and most simply, I want to change the speaker out to something more bluesy instead of clean. 

But back to the wheeling and dealing.  Since I have too many guitars I decided to trade one of them.  However I had to trade something that would cover the cost of the amp, and let them make a bit of profit. 

Since I am performing more Americana/ Southern Rock, I didn't really need my Dean Razorback Stealth anymore.  I managed to snag it from a pawn shop on a closeout special for $214.  So I wasn't actually losing money when I traded it for the amp.


So I took it to Sam Ash, and they looked it over.  Since it was in fantastic shape they were okay with doing an even trade on it.  I'm going to miss it, but to be honest I never really played it that much.  And if I need my Dean fix I own two ML's so it's not like I can't rock out like Dimebag Darrell. 

What's funny is that I decided to stop by Sam Ash on a whim.  I had a doctor's appointment that I had to kill time for, and since Sam Ash was on the way, I dropped in.  I actually ran into a salesman that I hadn't met before.  He was really cool, and I appreciated that he was willing to work with me on the deal. 

So, look forward to some updates on this amp.  When I get the scratch I will be upgrading it with some cool mods.  First thing, I am going to change the speaker.  We'll see where I go from there.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

School Dayz: Second Week In: Scholarship Edition

I just completed my second week of school at Erwin Technical College (formerly Erwin Vo. Tech.)  On Friday all of our tools came in.  And it wasn't just a few tools.  It was $1200 worth of tools. 





However, instead of pulling a "Tim Allen" and talking about tools, I wanted to talk about something a little different.  I wanted to talk about how I received those tools.  I know you're thinking, "Well, with cold hard cash right?"  In a sense that's correct, but it's a bit deeper than that.  So let me start at the beginning.

The first thing I did was talk to "Employ Florida" about going back to school.  They sent me to the Social Services section of Hillsborough County.  (It's still in the same building.)  To go to Erwin, I would have to apply for a Pell grant, then get turned down for the Pell grant since I have a Bachelor's degree.  Then, Hillsborough County would help out with their Greater Opportunities program.  Their reasoning is that, "It's better to pay to send me to school than pay for me to collect unemployment."

So, my tuition, books, and tools were all covered by the program.  For 15 months of school, the cost was around 3,700.  The tools were $1200, and the books were $400.  So it totaled a bit over $5.300.  Compared to the for profit schools Erwin is a fantastic deal.  At that cost the school isn't making any money.  The program is 15 months, and there are 15 people in my class.  I have two and sometimes three instructors at a time.  So I have to say it's a great deal, and a great program.

I know a lot of people complain about, "What is government doing for the people?"  Well, this is a social service that I believe that people can get behind.  I think this is the kind of thing that government should be doing.  And I have to admit, I am thankful for it.  I am very thankful.     

So I have come away with a new point of view on scholarships.  I always knew they were important, but now it's a bit more personal for me.  Otherwise, I don't think I would have been able to go back to school.  So I extend a very heartfelt, "Thank you Hillsborough County."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Back to School: First Week In

I'm almost hesitant to write a blog about going back to school.  After the first week I don't feel so smart.  But let me start at the beginning.

So, I managed to enroll, then get in an earlier class, then I got my financial aid all lined up to attend Erwin Vo. Tech.  Of all the funny things I found out, they changed the name to Erwin Technical College.  I guess they did that so it sounds more prestigious. 


This past Monday was my first day.  My two instructors shoved a bunch of info at us at once.  But even they admitted that they were trying to change up the things we learned during the day.  You know when you went to grade school you had English, math, social studies, and so on?  Well, we have been learning the basic design of A/C, OSHA certification, and basic tools.  So three courses are split up over six hours. 

I have a huge book on HVAC/R but it overwhelming.  It also costs $200.  While it is technically correct on everything, I feel a lot of it is going over my head at the moment.  I know it's only the first week, but I am really worried that I won't be able to keep up.  My two instructors tell us not to worry, in that, they are teaching us the basics of HVAC/R before we even get to that chapter. 

On a strange side note, my instructor Raul looks a lot like Conrad Keely of the band, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead.


But back to my worries.  As I look back on my blogs I see past blogs when I was hopeful, when I was confused, and when I had interesting ideas.  I also look back and see when I was extremely wrong about something, or about to make a major mistake in my life. 

I worry that I will look back at this post, and see where I was trying to turn my life around, but managed to screw it up.  I know I don't handle stress well, and am worried that something bad will happen. 

Having to learn all these new terms has me extremely stressed.  It's not like when I was college that I learned English after taking 12 years of English.  At that point I was just building on what I had already learned.  Right now, I am starting from the very bottom, and I feel like a child trying to learn math for the first time. 

As school goes on I will update my blog for better or for worse.  With a little luck, it may not be that exciting at all.  I kind of hope it will be nice and boring.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The "New" Little Blue Trailer, Part 2

So the work has continued on the new, little blue trailer.  Now that it has come together, I can really say it reminds me of 1970's Spiderman colors.


So, here's what's happened since my last post about the trailer.  I put on the last coats of paint on the wood.  Dad's friend helped repair the metal frame.  Dad then sealed and painted the frame of the trailer.

Next, he then assembled the wood onto the frame.  So now it looks like this:





Not too bad eh?  One thing you have to say is that, you can see it coming down the road from quite a distance.  Hopefully now that it has been repaired it will last a while.  When Dad uses a trailer for hauling wood, he really uses it.  Namely, to the tune of 4,000 pounds at a time.  So, let's hope it lasts a while. 

Yes, let's hope that I won't have to write a "Part 3" for a while.  Or if I do, let it be because of upgrades, and not because another guy dropped a giant log on it.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The "New" Little Blue Trailer, Part 1

Once upon a time, we had a little blue trailer for hauling wood and such.  But it wasn't big enough.  In fact, I wrote about it five years ago:

http://angjellockheart.blogspot.com/2011/04/little-blue-wagon.html

Here's a picture of it:


Notice the blue color?  Well that was kind of by accident.  I had white paint that I added a can of dark blue paint, and that's the color it gave me.  It was what we call a happy accident.  You see, that color blue almost glows at night.  So when we were driving down the road at night, the trailer could be seen from a half mile back. 

But Dad said the little blue trailer wasn't big enough.  He needed a trailer with dual tandems (a total set of four tires on it.)  That's right, it had to be super heavy duty.

So he bought one with dual tandems.  It was working well until a construction worker with a crane set a 4,000 pound log on it, and then pushed down with the crane.  So, it's now time to rehab, rebuild, and repaint the "new" little blue trailer.

Here's what we are dealing with:



Right now, the wood has been pulled off of it.  Namely, the wood was so banged and torn up that it needed replaced.  So here is the trailer stripped of wood, and the frame halfway painted.  It looks orange in the picture, but it is closer to Spiderman red. 

Here is the beam that was bent.  It is going to need replaced.  Hence, why it and part of the trailer have not been painted yet.


Here's the view from the back:


And here's the view from the side that still needs welded:


So this leads us to the wood.  Since the last blue worked so well, Dad decided he wanted to go with that same blue.  So we went to Home Depot, eyeballed the blue colors, and came up with the blue closest to what we had on the old blue trailer.



Heck if I can tell the difference between the two.  This time, we are doing it right.  The guy at Home Depot colored our primer the same as our paint.  So I am putting both primer and paint down on the wood.  Now, the wood on the upside will get torn up, but it will be protected from water damage on the underside. 

As of this moment I have the primer put on all the wood.  I am letting it dry until tomorrow when I will start adding the regular paint on it. 

So there is still a lot of work to do on it.

1.  Weld the trailer in a few spots.
2.  Replace the bent beam.
3.  Continue with the red paint after all the metalwork is complete.
4.  Continue painting the wood.
5.  Install the wood into the trailer. 
6.  Somewhere in there make sure all the trailer wires are off the ground and working.
7.  Once the wood is completely installed it will probably need another coat of paint.  Since the back of the trailer gets so dinged up, it 's good to have a thicker coat of paint there. 

I will post Part 2 in a week or so once most of the work is complete on the trailer.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cause Growing Up Is Hard To Do

So here I am again.  I'm looking at my life, and decide I need to grow up.  You can say what you want to about inner reflection and all that, but the truth is I need to grow up.  I have decided to go forth with a few steps to change my life.

First step.  I have enacted an exercise program.  Every day I try to walk two miles,  bike 6 miles, and lift my one 25 pound kettle weight.  I really needed to get my weight down.  I have noticed some results.  It's been slow going, but like my doctor told me, "If you lose one pound a week, by 20 weeks you'll have lost 20 pounds.  You can't do it overnight."

Step two.  I really need to find long term employment.  The problem is what I have my education in doesn't translate well into jobs.  I have a A.A. Lib Arts degree and a History B.A. degree.  I haven't really done much with this.  I have my luthier's certification.  I should work in China, South Korea, or Indonesia if I wanted to build guitars.  Namely, since that's where they are all made now.

I went to Roadmaster for truck driving school.  Then I became a truck driver, and found out why they always claim to need truck drivers.  Mainly, since they are paying them a lower wage now than in the 1980's.  The other problem is that, I live in Florida.  There's not much freight going in and out of Florida. 

If I lived in Atlanta I would probably still be truck driving.  I could pick up loads in the morning, deliver them, and be back home at night.  But by being stuck in Florida I could only get over the road jobs.  That got old really quickly.  Now, with my health and medical conditions I know I couldn't be an over the road driver.

So that leads me to going back to school.  This time Erwin Tech.


I decided I needed a job that would let me stay in the Tampa Bay area, and still make a decent wage.  That job is HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning.) 


It has been a bit of a whirlwind the last few days.  I was supposed to enroll for the January 2017 class.  However, two openings came open for the May 9, 2016 class.  So I had to run like crazy to get my financial aid in place.  I had to file for a Pell Grant, so I could get turned down.  I was then able to have Hillsborough County to help me out.  Next, I was able to take my school voucher to Erwin, and get registered. 

Now comes the realization of what I have to do.  I have to learn like crazy for 15 months.  I have to keep my grades up to keep my grant from the county.  I have to stay on top of my game.  I feel I have to work harder since I am an old dog trying to learn a new trick. 

One thing I have to deal with that I didn't expect was that Erwin has a dress code.  I understand that I have to wear leather work boots, but I don't know why I have to a solid color shirt.  Seriously, part of the dress code is that, I have to wear a solid color shirt.  That means all my flannel shirts can not be worn.  But that's okay, I have plenty of shirts, and have even bought a few more.  I will be the best dressed student there.  I have plenty of long sleeve, button up shirts in black, gray, and red.  I also have a few polo shirts in various colors. 


I will receive my books and tools on the first day of school.  But I also need to buy school supplies.  Namely, pens, paper, and a Trapper Keeper.  That's right.  I just went all 80's on myself.  I used a Trapper Keeper from first grade all the way through college.  It has always worked well for me.

Step three.  So now that I have school, this puts a ding the job I now have.  I will now have to find a new job.  So, I decided that now was a good time for a respectable haircut.  On a side note, I did donate my ponytail to "Locks of Love."


Maybe this will help me be able to land a job.  I'm not sure what I will do as far as part time work, but I will do my best try to get something going. 

So that's been my life changing/ growing up plan.  1.  Exercise program.  2.  Enroll and attend Erwin for HVAC.  3.  Get a haircut to try and find a new job.  It's not easy growing up, but we all need to do it sometime or another.  I'm just a late bloomer. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bougainvillea of Death!!!

It's funny that in this family we have gardeners who want to plant stuff all the time, but never want to cut any of it.  That job gets left to people who could care less about gardening.  Namely, me.

Someone had the bright idea to plant a giant bougainvillea plant/tree/bush right in front of the house.  Normally I wouldn't hold a grudge against such a plant, but this one has giant thorns on it that makes me think this thing was bred from an angry cat and a rose bush.  In other words, you come near it, it's like an angry black woman.  It's gonna cut you.

Really, I knew a woman who lived in a bad neighborhood, and planted these things in front of her windows so burglars couldn't break in.  She actually had a burglar try to break in, and he fell into the bush, and started screaming in the middle of the night.  Yes, these things hurt that bad.  But to finish the story, no, he never made it in the house.

So it comes down to me to deal with it.  This is what I'm talking about:


Yeah, it's a little out of control.  First up.  Protection.  No, not that type.  This type.


And my trusty shears.  I think these things are older than me.  But that's good.  It means they were made with good metal.


I guess the one redeeming quality of this plant is that, it does have some nice flowers.


Anyway, onto the haircut!!!


So, I end up with this:



I even cut out some room for the butterfly rock.  What's a butterfly rock you ask?  Well, it's like a bird bath, but the rocks are piled up higher than the water.  That way, the rocks can be wet, but a butterfly could still stand on it.



Next, I filled it up with water. 


So, here is the finished project.



There were a few spots that I needed a ladder to get to.  There were also a few times I had to lean in close to cut a few branches.  I only managed to come away with one scratch.  That's what good gloves will do for you.  I know the lawn waste guys won't be happy with me in the morning.  But hey, at least I put it all in one can for them.

So now I leave you with this.  A song about the bougainvillea.  Or least it has bougainvillea in it's title.