Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Cactus Update!

The rainy season is upon us, what amounts to winter here, so I'm sort of worried about how the Cactus Militia(CM) will fare.
Don't want to get em too damp!
The recruits are doing well, so far.
Starting to look like actual mini cactus plants:

It's been a couple of weeks since I transplanted them so if any of them were going to wash out of boot camp, they would've already checked out:

The carnegiea gigantea or Saguaro, is starting to look a little bunched up, so I may transplant them next. I think I'll put them like three to a pot, a bigger pot, since they won't grow very much in the next like ten years or so.
What you see is pretty much what I got:

I've read up some on the opuntia, and it seems I should have clipped the seed pods, or some have suggested freezing them to simulate a winter season.
The ones that did start are moving right along:

I think I'm going to wait a couple of months before trying the seeds again, maybe it's a seasonal thing.
I'm assembling the parts for my still, since the agave seem to be taking off as well:

Okay, not really.
About the still I mean.
Don't turn me in to no G-Men.
I actually have no idea what kind of agave those are anyways, and I'll have to look up which are the tequila specific species so I can take a shot at planting those.
The agave aren't pokey like the cactus but that's about as close to a shot of tequila I'll get to, at least in this life.
I was hoping the transplanted neobuxbaumia would take off so I could transplant them again and sell them in the craft fair coming up, but that's not going to happen.
I'll plan better next year and start recruiting around the beginning of summer.
In a way it's okay it didn't happen cause I didn't have the time to make more planters anyway.
Speaking of pots, I bisqued the last load and now all that's left is the glazing:

I better get to it!
That's at least three loads counting the refires.
I'm telling you, apprehension is beginning to raise its ugly head as I'm wondering what the hell I'm going to do with all these pots if I don't sell them.
More on that later.
The Craft Fair Extravaganza(CFE) is three days away and counting.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Don't Like Mondays

Classic song by the Boomtown Rats.
Some would say their only song, but I picked up their first CD and let me tell you, it's pretty good:

Nice collection of catchy tunes, in a Rolling Stones sort of way.
Like totally not what this is about though.
If you've been following along at home, you, the reader, know that I've been having some issues at work.
Well today, I hit sort of a crossroads.
No, I didn't sell my soul to the devil like Robert Johnson, or Ralph Macchio even.
At least I think I didn't.
I'm still checking.
What I did was lay out what I perceived as the truth.
That's always a difficult proposition for what I perceive as the truth may not be what you perceive as the truth and may not be what the other folks perceive as the truth.
Which leads me to wonder if there's any truth at all.
Ain't that the truth?
So anyways, I had a mostly one sided conversation with someone I work with about classroom management.
Which is pretty important, if you are planning to manage a classroom.
Which let me tell you, isn't easy.
The problem I seem to be having, which isn't really a large problem, not in the big picture anyway, is that I'm wondering if I made a positive or if I did a negative.
I sort of live by the simple fact that even if the truth is not good(read "the truth hurts" here), it's always better than misleading, or outright lying.
Okay, I could have just keep my mouth shut, that was an option.
Sometimes though, not divulging can lead to more, let's just say, negativity.
So, I took a deep breath and plunged.
I was immediately sorry I did.
The expression "taking candy from a baby" came to mind.
I try not to rain on other folks' parades.
Knock em off of their clouds.
If you know what I mean.
On the other hand, I can't just sit there and let other folks create nightmares for me either.
Okay, nightmares is a little strong.
I sleep pretty well.
It's the waking hours I'm beginning to dread.
I mean I'm not one to just sit by and watch the proverbial excrement hit the wind generating device.
So anyways, I felt sort of bad after what happened.
I'm trying to absolve myself of responsibility by saying it's all about the kids, etc, but today, it's not working so good.
I think it's because that perhaps deep down, I know, I realize that's it was partly about me.
About me, and what I go through each day, about how I deal with what I have to deal with.
I'm sitting here, questioning the truth behind what motivated me to go where I went.
To do what I did.
Getting up in the morning and seeing the word "selfish" tattooed across my forehead is not how I like to start the day.
The Wheaties just don't taste the same.
In the end, all I can do is live with my decision, hope it was for the best, and learn from it.
I mean, it is a classroom.
I have to learn that sometimes these things cost someone something, that there is a price to pay, that such things are not free.
So it goes.
Oh, and don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make myself out as some kind of saint or anything.
Saintly I'll never be, not in a past life, not in this life, not in the next.
I would say that I'm working on it, but that's not the truth either.
I'm settling for just being a better person.
No use setting the bar too high.
If you know what I mean.
I'm just hoping that I'll like Tuesday a little better.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Final

Faux ikebana.
That's what I was doing today.
Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
Actually it's a bit deeper than that, as most Japanese arts are, but I don't know a whole lot about it, so I won't get into it.
Like that made sense.
First off, that pot with the bubbalous glaze, well it turns out it looks like it was over fired:

That's what happened when I fired it two cones hotter, along with the bisque fire.
Now most of these glazes are supposed to be good within a certain cone range, like plus one or two cones, but apparently this glaze is sort of temperature sensitive.
That and I got a hot spot in my kiln.
The thing to do when firing a kiln for the first time is to cone different sections of it to check if it's firing evenly. Most of the time, you may find that there is up to a cone difference, which comes out to around thirty to fifty degrees.
That doesn't sound like a lot when you're up at twenty one hundred degrees, but chemically strange things are happening.
I'll make a mental note to fire that color only in the middle of the kiln, or not let it get too close to the sides.
Things can get freakier in a gas kiln, I've got a pot around here with three different colors from the same glaze.
So anyways, I was thinking that I should get me some flowers to help demonstrate the unique qualities of my vases.
Off I went to the craft place to check out the assortment of silk flowers.
Boy, I was impressed. I'll try to sneak some pics when I go back but the place was loaded with all kine flowers!
That's local speak for plenty.
Well this is actually the first time I've actually seen any of my pottery with flowers in them:

I gotta tell you, getting them flowers to look nice is not that easy.
For one thing, I only bought one of each color just to try them out. Ikebana is a sort of minimalist thing so it should be right up my alley. Playing with them flowers made me realize that there exists a relationship with the pot I wasn't really aware of.
Most of the things I make, I make to stand alone.
Occupy space, blend in with the surroundings.
Now, I realize that when combined with flowers, it becomes just a vessel, and it shouldn't detract from the flower or arrangement.
I sort of had to sit back and rethink the rest of the pots I got.
Of which there are twenty three more to go.
Three more glaze firings.
Then I'm done with my mission.
Oh, then I got to go out and sell em.
I needs me a new bike don't you know.
That should be interesting.
The selling part I mean.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Osmosising My Brain, Desperate Measures

Today, while I was toiling over a spinning wheel, the mail person stopped by and dropped off some stuff.
Usually I fly out the door, heart beating with expectations as the mail truck comes by.
This time, I barely noticed as I had my hands stuck in the mud.
So anyways, I've been waiting for a couple of things, mostly books, but there were a couple of things I forgot about.
I spend way too much time on evil eBay.
One thing was bicycle related:

Forty two tooth chain ring for the mugs.
The fifty two was just a bit too large, it wrapped around practically half a mug.
We'll see how this ring works.
I also got something to help me at work:

Nothing really new there, but I think it helps to read that stuff to reinforce things and put them into practice.
In the situation I find myself in, it helps to practice these strategies until they are second nature.
Sort of like how I trained in sales.
There's only three weeks or so left in the semester, and I've been told that reassignments are coming but it's still good to fill up the ole tool box.
If you've been following along at home, you, the reader, know that I've been trying to reacquaint myself with the French language.
Not an easy task.
I've gotten better though. When I first started, I figure I was understanding about ten percent of what I was reading, now it's up to like twelve.
Percent, I mean.
So I decided that a more scientific method was called for.
These came in the other day:

That's right sports fans!
French music!
The plan is to listen to this stuff every night as I sleep and hopefully some of that lingo will seep into my brain.
Osmosis don't you know.
Actually I'm not sure if that's a good plan or not for understanding French folks is even harder when they're singing.
Sounds kinda cool though:

I'm also thinking of tackling Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo in a parallel text.
That though, is a whole 'nother ball game.
The book comes in like six volumes.
Not exactly a Sunday afternoon read.
Finally, I put a couple of more coats of that New Zealand dye on my tires. The reflecto strip got a bit darker, not real black but okay.
Kinda sorta.
I'm telling you that reflecto strip is resilient stuff!
I think it was designed to shine through all kinds of road gunk and dirt.
Three coats of dye and still going strong:

You can see the unaltered reflecto strips on my seat bag. The tires haven't seemed to have lost any intensity.
Boy, I may have to bust out the right angle grinder.

Hot Bubbalicious Action!

Took some stuff out of the kiln this morning, then I loaded it back up to do a bisque.
I've been turning the kiln around everyday it seems for the last week.
On a craft fair mission don't you know.
I also got me some new colors, a turquoise and a dark blue:

I'm liking that dark blue a lot, am thinking about using it for some astronomy themed mugs and such.
There was a slight problem at Mission Control as the firing was not perfect:

I don't know what the hell happened there, the last time I saw a low fire glaze all bubbalous and such was when I sent the kiln at school into reduction and ruined a kiln load of stuff.
This is a soup tureen I did in school, the glaze on the tee got all bubbalous and funky:

The lid is all off color because I had to do some repeat firings on it. The whistle on the top is in that white gold lustre.
Reduction firing is when you starve the fire in the kiln of oxygen by closing off the primary and/or secondary air sources. The flame then seeks out oxygen molecules by pulling it out of the glaze or clay body.
Well, this isn't supposed to happen in low fire electric firings. I think perhaps I set the pot too close to the heating elements and it got a little cooked. Or maybe I got a bad spot in the kiln, I'll have to keep an eye on any pots that come out of the same area.
Anyways, I'm refiring that thing at a higher temperature to see what will happen.
The pot, not the football thingy.
After I got a look at the pots that came out of the kiln, I rushed over to the store place and got me the leather dye stuff.
The stuff that dreams are made of.
Okay, not really.
It's a little darker, but not by much:

I think the problem here is that the sidewall thing is reflective, not like raised white lettering on a car tire. Anything the least bit translucent will not do the trick, so I'm looking for something really nasty and black.
Black and nasty.
I like that combination.
Well, at least I used to.
That thirty dollar tire paint stuff is starting to look good for I'm getting tired of fooling around and I only have one pair of black shoes and like three thingys of shoe polish.
I guess I could polish up my bicycle shoes too.
Okay, not really
So anyways, I think I'm sort of winding it down on the craft fair mission.
I'll do another ten stuffs today and that'll be it.
I only have another week to glaze and fire and I think I'll just be able to make it by next Saturday.
I was thinking tomorrow, I'll work on more mugs as I have some ideas to see through.
Then again I may just sit around and do nothing.
Oh wait, I got more stuffs to glaze!
Total pots Ready to Go(TPRTG), 40.

Friday, November 26, 2010

le Pneu et le Cirage a Chaussure

Okay, this ain't working.
If you've been following along at home, you know I got me a new set of tires.
That's a good thing, for my old tires were getting sort of old and crusty.
More on that later.
Well tires nowadays, at least the kine I was looking for, come with these reflecto strips on the sidewalls so that folks can see you riding around at night.
If you go out riding around at night, which I don't.
Though I may.
That's another story.
So anyways, I was looking for ways to get rid of the eye blinding glare of these reflecto thingys which make it look like I got ole man tires on my bike.
Image is everything don't you know.

So I do a Googlio search and I can't get any info about how to black out tire sidewalls. See the stuff I wanted to use is no longer being made and the only thing I found that was similar was like thirty bucks and the hot rodder dudes don't even use it they use like shoe polish.
Cirage a chaussure:

Well if it's good enough for some dude and his deuce coupe, it's good enough for me!
If you remember, I tried the El Marko thing:

It was okay, but not as opaque as I wanted.
Pardon me boy, is this the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
My tires are twenty nines,
Maybe I can give it a shine!
Here it is with the polish:

Boy this reflecto stuff is tough!
Still reflectoing right through the shoe polish!
So then I'm thinking hey! maybe I'm using the wrong stuff.
I remember that shoe polish also comes in those spongy bottle thingys for a shine when you're in a rush:

This must be the stuff they're talking about!
Not really.
All by itself, it's doesn't really do anything.
Combined with the paste, it's a little darker:

I may be able to live with that.
Then again, maybe not.
Seriously, I don't know why this is bothering me so much, the sidewall thing I mean, for I go so fast my tires are just a blur anyways.
Well maybe it's because I started something and dangnammit! I'm not going to stop until I get it right!
Or at least close.
Kinda sorta.
I may be visiting El Marko land again.
Or shelling out thirty bucks.
One thing is sure.
My shoes will be looking good.
As soon as I get around to polishing them:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black and Blue and More Foo-Foos

After I got home tonight, I got a chance to do a quick inventory of all the stuff I've done so far.
Once you start to crank stuff out, it's gets sort of hard to keep track of what exactly you made, and what colors you used.
I mean if it was up to me, I'd probably just use one color and get it over with.
Unfortunately, it's nice to have a good variety of stuff, especially if you're trying to move it.
My cache so far:

That's like 28 stuffs right there, with another nine in the kiln, six waiting to be glazed, and five drying.
So lemme see, that's like twenty eight plus nine, etc, all told about forty eight stuffs.
If I can get out another thirty this week end, I'll be doing all right.
I put some color patterns on the side so that I can explore them again, and the picture will help me decide what kind of shapes I need to work on.
I also have this book called Ceramic Design by Peter Lane which has a section of silhouettes to look at:

Sort of a pottery template.
I've found that I sort of like glazing certain things, maybe a bit too much. Having a sort of OCD personality, it's easy to get carried away.
Here's another blue/black thingy:

I started to like doing the dots thing, so I did a bowl:

Then I got really really carried away and did a bottle:

Maybe I need to step away from the dot thingy.
The other thing I noticed was that my stuff sort of kept getting larger, I was gravitating towards the size of stuff I was used to making.
Well I hope to fix that and keep the sizes around the same for my scale finally arrived:

Eleven bucks from Amazon!
Now I can start weighing out my clay get some consistency.
I can also start making sets of bowls and other matching stuff.
So last night, I was searching high and low for something to cover the reflex strips on my new tires:

I gotta tell you, riding around the other day sort of felt like I was riding around on like a '59 Plymouth or something.
Those "white walls" just ain't doing it for me.
Unfortunately, the stuff I was looking for isn't made anymore. The company got sold or something and they discontinued the product.
I found something similar, but I ain't spending thirty bucks just to black out my sidewalls!
So I guess it's time to bust out the Sharpie and go to work.
Maybe I'll see what it looks like with some foo-foos first:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Final

So I got out today for a short ride on my new tires.
As soon as I got out of the driveway and down the Hill of Jack and Jill, I could tell something was different.
The rear felt a bit squirrely, like my tire was a bit low on air.
More on this later.
I gotta say first, these tires are like perfect.
Not riding perfect, but like in rolling perfect.
I mean they roll perfectly or pretty close to it.
My old tires had a slight wobble in them, even when new. I suppose it's the sort of imperfection you get with car tires that makes you have to balance them.
Well, I didn't check for balance, but my nekkid eyeball detects no perceivable wobble and that darn reflecto strip spins round and round well, roundly.
These puppies are also smooth.
Like brand new pavement smooth.
I don't know if it's the 120 TPI count, my old tires were like 30 TPI, but I can feel the difference.
Bumps don't jolt anymore, it sort of feels like you got an extra layer of, well, rubber on your tires.
The Randonneur Hypers are advertised at around 400gs, so I lost about a half pound per wheel.
I don't know if it's just the Kool Aid or what, but I can feel the surge forward when I mash on the pedals.
It sure is nice to have round tires again!
The front end though did pick up a bit of oversteer, the bike wants to sort of dive into a turn now. Not real bad, just enough for me to tell the difference.
I'm going to call the squirrels in the rear tire all about roundness.
Roundness is good.
So anyways, I cut my regular route short for I had to get home and do my craft fair mission.
We got these trees here, I don't know what kind of trees they are, but they got these golf ball sized thingys that fall into the road:

These trees line a short quarter mile stretch of bike lane on either side of the road.
I was joking when talking about road hazards here, stuff like coconuts and stuff, but these thingys are sort of like land mines to folks riding skinny road tires:

Okay, this doesn't look too bad, but those things aren't even in season yet!
Trust me, it looks like a driving range during certain times of the year.
Those thingys ain't small:

So anyways, I was working my way back towards The Flat Tire Central, when I came upon this:

Not the one I'm doing, but it reminded to hurry and get back to work.
Tomorrow I'm doing a visual inventory of what I got so far pottery wise so I'll take some pics then.
I have many miles before I sleep.
Overall, a nice short ride on my new skins.
Average speed was up, but only because them tires have a lower profile so I was cheating my computer.
I have to remember to recalibrate it.
Or not.
Oh, and just for you JRA of One Speed: Go! fame:

Sunday Early Edition

Before I go out and put my nose to the grindstone, I wanted to bring to you, the reader, a few things that have been sitting on the digital shelf.
First, here are some pics of my new meats:

Now that I'm looking at them in daylight, I can see that they are slightly shorter in profile than my old skins.
Full review to come.
This morning as I was scanning the band so to speak, Amusing Planet had an interesting post on a bicycle airbag for the head:

I don't know about the idea of riding around with something around my neck is a good idea, but the video sure is cool.
The flex on the frame is interesting to see in the endos and you can hear the engineers chuckling in the background.
Doesn't seem to help in a face plant, but then again neither does a regular helmet.
I listen to the Two Johns Podcast regularly.
Like every night.
Mostly because I can never get through the whole thing without falling asleep, so I have to keep going back to get what I missed.
That's not to say the two Johns are boring or anything, it's actually quite the opposite.
The self proclaimed bicycling elitists are witty and funny, sometimes outrageously so.
Serious cycling entertainment.
Anyways, they are into their cyclocross thing and they posted up this really cool vid:

I could watch that over and over and over and over and, well, you get the idea.
Sort of reminding me of that Spirograph thingy I had as a kid:

Finally, back in another life, in fact in another nother life, I played some guitar.
I haven't picked one up in some time, but am thinking about adding it to my list of things to re-do.
In high school, I played in the stage band and they put me on bass guitar which was sort of cool.
Anyways, in my Quest for Tires, I came across this:

Now those have got to be the coolest looking pedals I've ever seen!
The perfect edition to your Elvis bike along with the sequins and tassels.
Boy, I had to dig deep and use all my Jedi will power not to hit the buy button(BB) on those puppies!
If they came in red or yellow I'd be mounting them as we speak.
I mean er, type.
Talk about rocking down the highway!
Okay, off I go to the salt mines.
I gotta open up the kiln and see what I got.
Hopefully I can hit the road a bit later.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What's In the Box?

I spent most of today on my craft fair mission.
The problem with making so many stuffs is that you sort of run out of ideas after about the tenth piece.
Okay, maybe at around the fifth.
Maybe even the second.
All I know is that I'm not really digging cranking out so much stuff at one time.
I'm sort of a one of a kind guy don't you know.
I'll have some pics of some of the goofy stuff I've been working on tomorrow when I open up the kiln.
So anyways, I'm working on the wheel in the gar-, uh, studio when the Postperson pulls up and hauls out this large box.
All right!
My scale from Amazon! Now I can start making some bowls and mugs!
Wait a minute, this thing is sort of light, like there's nothing in it.
Well as you can guess, it wasn't my stuff from Amazon, but my stuff from Real Cyclist.
Lemme back track a bit.
So I was hell bent on getting some new tires but I was having a hard time deciding what tires to get.
Well, after some rocks got stuck in my old tires, it was pretty obvious that I could no longer wait so I decided to get some tires, like right now.
Not like right now right now, more like back then right now.
That was fine except no one had the tires I wanted, which were Schwalbe Marathons.
So then the insanity started.
I mean you know how it is when you can't get your first choice so then you have to settle for your second choice but then your second choice is like a whole bunch of choices so it's like you have to make a first choice all over again.
Well Real Cyclist had my second first choice for a nice price and most important, the right shipping price.
I feel sort of bad cause I know they paid more than they charged me to ship them tires because they came in this humongous box:

Sort of like ordering brushes from Dick Blick.
Well, it seems Vittoria Randonneur Hypers come in these funky boxes, must be a marketing thing:

The other strange thing is that while the tire size on the box says 37c, the tire itself says 35.
That worried me a bit cause 35s are about the smallest I wanted to go and if these things measured out on the small side, well that just wouldn't do.
The good news is that they measure out about the same as my old tires which were 35s also, but slightly on the large side.
The thing about most tires nowadays, is that they all come with that reflective striping and I'm not really into the reflective thing.
Image is everything don't you know.
Well I didn't get to mounting them up until tonight so I only have a few pics.
Here I am mounting them:

This is what they look like mounted on my bike:

Finally, here I am taking a test ride. It was sort of dark so I apologise for the image:

I think I'll be getting me some of that tire black stuff and getting rid of the reflective sidewall.
They sort of stand out in the pictures.
Hopefully I can get a ride in tomorrow and really test them out.