Motorcycles, tools, and garages! A little bit of everything mechanical and technical.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Why teach?

I was recently asked why I was a teacher.  Here is my response:

I kind of fell into teaching-  The classes I was taking in college were not leading the direction I wanted them to go.  A lot of the classes I took were in a building shared with part of the education department, and I noticed THEY got to do all the things I was hoping I would get to do.  I had visited with my adviser once about it, then gone back in a second time with some follow up questions.  She was working on something while we talked, and at the end of our conversation she said something along the lines of "You're all set!"- she had already transferred me and changed my major. 

That was the moment I became a teacher.  While it may sound like the decision was made for me, I already knew that was what I wanted to do and here's why.  All too often I see and hear people say things like "you will never be happy with your job, just pick something you can stomach that pays good money and do it".  From what I had seen and later experienced this did not seem to be the case with this bunch of educators.  They (we) truly loved what we were doing.  Suddenly homework was FUN.  Class was FUN.  I was learning all kinds of things and really enjoying it.  Then came student teaching, and while I may not have left from that every day from school with a smile, I was always excited the next morning to be back at it. 

So there's the why: because I truly love what I get to do for "work" every day.  Why do I love what I get to do for work every day?  Easy- its awesome to see students working at developing a new skill- to see the failures and the successes, and to be a part of something that will hopefully be useful for the rest of their lives.

ON THE OTHER HAND... I did NOT become a teacher to listen to the lady in front of me at the checkout whine about having to buy pencils and papers for her students.  "Isn't the TEACHER supposed to supply this stuff?!" REALLY!?  Must've touched a nerve because I had to say something.  I'm pretty reserved and as my wife says avoid confrontation at all costs, but I couldn't let it slide.  I very politely struck up a conversation with her, during the course of which I was able to let her know how much money has come out of my own personal pocket (and much, much more out of my wifes pockets) on things that I'll never be able to get refunded for. 

Thats part of teaching, it seems.  Sad that it has to be that way, but it is.  The tax deduction doesn't even begin to cover the out of pocket expenses I think most teachers incur the first couple of years of teaching.  I get the feeling that the "pendelum" is starting to swing back, that there is hope on the horizon.  Things are going to get better.  Its going to take a few years, but if I've made it this far through the worst of it, I can make it a few more, right?

Here's to a new year, starting on Tuesday.  Hoping it will be a great year, excited for new things, sad for losses from last year, but ready to get busy and do my thing!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

World's Smallest Flying Merkel!

Got a wild hair and built myself a Flying Merkel.  This is, without a doubt, THE COOLEST motorcycle to ever grace this planet.  Merkel built "motorcycles" in the early 1900's.  You can read all about them on the interewebs.

Here is my very favorite:  The 1911 board track racer.

I've dreamed of building a version of this bike, and even went so far as to design one around an old Honda XL 350.

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 photo XLerkel1-overXL.jpg

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I still hope to be able to build that bike someday, even though someone already beat me to it and built one around a Yamaha XT 500 engine.  You can see his entire build here:  http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=619303  There is some incredible craftsmanship there.  It turned out GREAT too:

Oh, right, so the one I built.

Lets see what we can do with all of my wifes jewelry stuff.

Frame was bent out of little bits of wire that are supposed to be made into earings. The rims were pre-rolled just like they are there.

See that lump of aluminum?

Thats the gas tank.

Forks done. Look familiar?

Engine was made from the bottom of a 1/4" bolt and the tops cut from two spark plugs.

Test fitting.

Painting was a real pain in the hiney.

Starting to come together. Used this fancy wire from Walmart to add some detail.

Took me 4 tries to get the pedals right, 3 tries to get the mag and plug wires right, and lots of tries for various other bits...

Made some custom decals with water transfer paper. Took several tries on regular paper to get the size and curve right but I think they turned out okay.

Voila! Done.

And to get a better idea of the size:

"Final" pic.

Now if only I could afford the REAL one!