Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-The Strainer

  This new year resolution of not being a dickhead is working out pretty good. I'm a happy person and fun to be around! Well that's the way I see it anyway. I'm reminded by coworkers of every action I make that can be interpreted as slightly dickheadish. Bah, humbug. I don't need any negativity and this year everything goes through a strainer. No lumps in the gravy for me. Anything caught in the strainer gets tossed out and all that is left is lump free gravy for me.
 What does this mean? Basically I'm not putting up with stupid customer bullshit. If you don't have a clue on a certain topic and need educating, I'll help you with that. If you're a big mouth who thinks he's always right, yet I know you're wrong, I'm not pussy footin around your feelings. If you flat out lie I have no problem setting you straight and enjoying some lump free gravy.

 Customer A brings in a handheld blower that won't start. Right away I notice it has no compression. I pull the spark plug to find the cylinder scored all the way around. The fuel looks suspicious and when questioned, he states he mixed it correctly 2.6 ounces per gallon.....last year. This customer got an education. He was bummed about his equipment but passed through the strainer just fine.
 Customer B walks into the store complaining that I haven't sprayed the weeds in his lawn yet. He spouts a bunch of lies about who and when. I asked him when was the last day we didn't have rain or high winds and he just turned and said he was gonna find someone else. He was bluffing and was caught in my strainer. When he realized I was gonna let him walk he came back and asked to be kept on the list. In my opinion I was not being a dickhead. This is just weeding out the unwanted bullshit.
I haven't wiped the strainer clear of this one yet. He may pass through and turn out to be a good customer. Some of my best accounts are people I've butted heads with in the beginning. Sometimes you just need to establish boundaries so everyone knows where they stand. Some things take longer to pass through the strainer than others.
 Customer C buys a yard of mulch. After his trailer is loaded he claims he should get more material. It's easy to measure the trailer, do the math and show him he is getting exactly what he has paid for. Lets not even get into the fact that the loader bucket is one yard struck. This customer claims he got more material the last time he was here. I gave him a choice. I asked if he would like to pay for the extra he got last time or enjoy the fact that he got away with a little extra last time. He chose the latter. Does that make me a dickhead? He passed through as lump free gravy but I would have been just as happy to throw him out with the other lumps.
 Customer D calls on the phone a few weeks ago and asks what spark plug he needs for his hedge trimmer. That's exactly what he asked. I know he's standing at the counter of the auto parts store looking to buy from them but wants free info from us. Whatever. I say I need more info and he says it's a hedge trimmer. I'm thinking no shit and ask what brand and model? He stumbles a bit and finally decides it is a Stihl hedge trimmer. I know there's no way this rocket scientist will know the model but ask anyway. He insists they're all the same and I think to myself "If you're so fricken smart, why did you call?" I tell him I'm looking at the chart for all Stihl hedge trimmers and there are five different spark plug choices. He says. "Is Al there? He's the smartest one at that shop" I say, "Thanks for calling". Click. I don't know who this guy was and didn't let it bother me but I did tell the story to Al just in case he didn't know he was the smartest one of us.

 Yesterday a guy comes in the shop and is talking to Al and says he wasn't sure if he should come here because I was so rude to his freeloader ass on the phone. Once Al made the connection of my story with this guy all he could do was laugh. In fact he did a lot of laughing after the guy left. Ya maybe I was a bit of a dickhead for hanging up on him but how much of a dickhead is a guy that calls a business and wastes a techs time to get free info so he can spend his money with some other business.
 Just another lump caught in the strainer.

Rant over. Later.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Grocery Getter

 Low sleek sporty looking bikes are cool but they just can't get the daily chores done like a bagger can.

 And that right there is the dilemma. I hacked the rack off the back of the sportster and now I can't even haul a pizza on that bike. Light narrow bikes are fun to ride but impractical. Basically all I can do with that bike is "ride around" which is fine but eliminates the ability to multi task. Lets say I need some grub bigger than my bacpac from a tavern 18 miles away. Many times I'll take the fifty mile route just to get a nice ride in.  I suppose I could fold the pizza in half and put it in a bacpac but in my high class world of beer in a can and dinner in a cardboard box, that's really just unacceptable. As you can see I'm sticking to my healthy eating habits of diet beer and a small pizza.
 The subject came up the other day about how much longer the Rat Turd was gonna be sitting in the living room. Well Honey that's an excellent question and I'm glad you brought your concern to my attention. These matters can't be pushed off and must be addressed in a swift timely fashion in a way that best suites all parties involved. I'm gonna give your request my fullest attention, weigh the options and get back to you with an answer just as soon as I have one. Initial thoughts include putting the bike in the garage but I hate to rush into a hasty decision.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-Stand On Sprayer

 Due to the high demand (one person) for another "Workshop Wednesday" post, I offer you an update on the stand on sprayer project  that I last reported on in March. I finished the plumbing to include a foam marker system, flow meters and a quick disconnect for removing the hood to allow for spreading fertilizer.
 If a guy is building something for personal use, that's one thing. If you are gonna build something and then charge people for the work it does, it better work right. I had to calibrate the sprayer first which meant measuring out an area and spraying water. This gave me gallons per thousand square feet and allowed for figuring how much chemical to add per tank. The first job for the new sprayer was a remote industrial location. Afterwards we parked the sprayer for a week and watched the area to see if there were any problems. This was done just in case I screwed up on my calculations or if there was some type of weird overlap problem. As it turns out the sprayer did just fine and we brought it into the fleet for daily use. "Bringing it into the fleet" is easier said than done.

 Anytime we've added new equipment to the truck or trailer there has been a learning curve to get everything to fit. The hooded sprayer was no exception but the extra hassle is well worth it. The unit doesn't do the job any faster than an open boom but it does keep drift to a minimum and eliminates the potential for random over spray on desirable plants. With its foam marker system it also takes the guess work out of overlapping rows. It's also nice to just follow the foam and not have to think about where your last pass was.
 I have no experience with other brands of stand on sprayers and I'm not aware of any that are hooded so I can't compare it to other sprayers. The machine does handle a little stiff with the extra weight out front. I expected that and it's actually not as bad as I thought it might be. From the beginning I've had a plan to make it easier for me to handle and that was to make James run it. So far that plan is working out great!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shooting Rats

 Just sendin the .177 down range and killin rats. OK, really it was target practice with a co2 bb piston in my garage.

 The rats were just Greasy Shop Rag stickers but it was fun just the same. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we had the lever action bb rifles. We would patrol the yard just looking for an excuse to pull the trigger. Its fun shootin stuff when it can't shoot back. I say that because I remember if one of the neighborhood kids had a welt from taking a round, there was always a second kid with a matching wound. Revenge is sweet.

 A while back we had some birds find their way into our basement. Getting them out was a serious problem. That's when I bought this particular bb piston. It made bird removal just a matter of picking them up and throwing them away. A shot gun would have been a bit much for inside work like this plus clean up would have sucked.

 I didn't ride this week. The weather has been crap with cold, wind and rain. I made it a point to do "truck things", like hauling schtuff too big for the bike, so I wouldn't need the truck next week. We'll see how that works out.
 I did ride the sportster two blocks to the kwiky mart the other night to pick up supplies. Chips, dip, bananas and scratchers if I remember right. Lost on the lottery tickets and lost on the dip too. I forgot to refrigerate after opening and my wife threw it out. Bought some more the next day and forgot to put that one in the fridge too. Funny, I won't buy that dip again but I plan on playing the lottery some more. Anyway the point of mentioning the sportster was to say this. Just when you start thinking "what am I gonna do about this bucket of bolts" you walk out of the store to find a small crowd gathered around your bike leaving their dna all over it. At least someone is happy with the way it looks.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bike Don't Need Nuttin

 On Mothers Day my wife and I got out for a ride.

 One of our daughters called and my wife asked me to pull over so she could call her back. I did, and as they were conversing I was looking over the bike. No obvious issues and I started wondering what the bike needed in the way of farkles.

 I couldn't come up with anything. I think I may have this bad boy set up just the way I want it. Ya I know it needs tires and regular maintenance and one other thing...

 A bath!  This bike hasn't been washed in 2017 yet. I really need to get after that.

 Yesterday temps jumped to dang near 80 something degrees. When I got home from work we decided it would be best to skip a home meal and get on the Ultra and forage for food. We're at that stage in our lives when we aren't tied down by much of anything. The kids are out of the house, we're not geriatric, and I can still hold the big bike up. That means if we want to go on a week night dinner ride, well then we will and nothing will get in the way.
 The sportster hasn't seen much use lately and the rat turd is still in the living room. The BSA project seems to be in a holding pattern again. I guess it's just that time of year when those bikes won't see much action.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Trash Day

 Wife: "What's your blog gonna be about?"
 Me: "That pile of shit out by the road."
 Wife: "You're gonna write about a pile of shit?"
 Me: "Yep."

 I don't know how it goes in your town but here abouts we have a "bulk pickup" trash day once a year. It's always the day after Mothers Day. The thought process here is that if you're a broke ass bum and can't afford to take your mother out for beer and brats, at least you can go to her house and clean out the basement. If you're already living in her basement then you gots to clean out the garage or attic. Either way it's a chance to do something nice for your mom.

 As it turns out, it's also a chance for broke ass bums to stock up on free goodies. I'm not looking down on anybody here. I know we're all in different stages of broke, some just worse than others. At least these people are willing to help themselves and not whine about how the world owes them a life.  Now the way I see it, unless it's actual junk like grandpas old skivvies or an unwanted toe nail collection, most people put this crap out to the curb hoping someone will take it home and use it. We sometimes arrange certain goodies by the curb in a presentable manner, kinda like the way a guy stages a home for sale, so as to make our crap more attractive. I admit to occasionally hiding a valuable goodie in a strange spot just to see if someone is adventurous enough to find it. They always find it.
 Just before I started writing this yesterday a guy pulls up, turns on some music and starts carefully picking through everything out there. He claimed a lot of stuff and he was there a long time. I thought he was gonna break out a smokey joe grill, cook a meal and settle in.
 A little later I hear the clinker clatter of scrap metal dudes digging around in my trash. I looked out the window to see a full truck, or so I thought.

  Turns out the driver claims there was plenty of room despite the pleas from his two buddies that begged him to leave some stuff behind. He wasn't about to pass up a score like this and sure enough they got most of it. A local kid snatched up a big smoker grill before they could get it loaded. The two buddies were relieved.

  That a/c unit went on the truck too. These guys were from the next town over and I would be very surprised if those straps didn't let loose before they made their destination. I didn't have the heart to tell them they weren't gonna make beer or gas money with this load. I was just glad to see they were trying.
 I still have all day today to haul stuff out there. I like the relief that comes from cleaning out the garage but I find it hard to throw some things away. I told my wife, as I hauled a tractor fuel tank out to the curb, that I had been saving this thing for seven years because I might need it for a project. I'm now having regrets and I might go see of it's still out there. Other items have been robbing space in my life for much longer. It's a tough deal because I'm looking at stuff I know I'll never use but I come up with reasons to keep it. I should either get strong or get drunk and make the decision to get rid of it. The scrap metal collectors will have it picked up way before the trash man ever gets here.

 It used to be a hard to decide what to get/do for Mom on mothers day. Her garage was in good order and she didn't even have a basement. I have a reminder on my bike and think of her every time I go for a ride. If you can get this message Mom, just know that we miss you.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

More Random Phone Pics

 I was able to put a few miles on the Ultra this weekend. Even took my wife for her first ride of the season. Even though the sun was shining, it was a bit cool. She wore a heated vest and I had the heated grips turned on. Take it or leave it, that's really the only motorcycle news I have to offer.

 I was thumbing through the pics in my phone cleaning out the garbage when I wondered how many of these pics were of a positive nature and how many were negative. I guess it was a pretty even mix. Turns out I use the phone a lot as a tool to record work related events. Take a pic rather than look for pen and paper to make a note. A lot of those "notes" are records of why a customers equipment is broken.

 Ya the air filter wasn't doing much on this saw. If I remember right it was just sitting there not clamped in. There were about ten different dirty intake pics in there. A lot of people have no clue and if it starts next time they need it well then thats just bonus.
 Sometimes things go as planned and it just seems like a good idea to record the moment.

 Other times I'm not so sure if what I'm experiencing is good or bad so I take a pic so I can decide later. This one is just fun...

 And this one I'm still not sure about...

 Other times a short video is needed. They were gonna throw this guy in the garbage so I adopted him and stuck him on my bench, I still don't know who added the doinker on him. The footage is shaky because I'm laughing so hard. Ya I know but grade school humor is the best.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Potpourri (In a Funk)

 Not really sad, just been busy trying to keep up at work. It's that time of season when I have to be in too many different places at once and am getting pressure from customers despite the fact that I haven't broken any promises (yet). The other day I was strong armed by a little old lady that must think I just sit at the shop and wait for the phone to ring so I'll have something to do. I tried to explain that she called in late and there were 18 kajillion people ahead of her. The conversation ending with me begging for her to give me until Monday (two weeks sooner than I planned) to spray the weeds in her yard. I think she must have been a hostage negotiator or used car salesman when she was younger. I must be getting soft because last week a second little old lady worked me over for $3 on a fertilizer quote. Come to think of it, both of those old gals used the hard of hearing routine to break me down. Ma'am, the price is $53. "what, $50?" No ma'am, $53. "$50?" $53, I said $53. "Did you say $50?" Yes ma'am, $50. "Ok, that sounds fair". Funny how she heard that part.
 Remember when I told you my new years resolution was to be less of a dickhead? Less means I can still be a dick once in a while and that held true this week when I had to fire two customers. One was for environmental reasons and the guy understood when I explained applications to his property could pollute the lake. The other one was monsignor dickhead himself. This guy screwed us over on a bill under the last owners reign and thought because I had a new boss it was ok for him to pull that shit again. I gave him the FE (F**k Em). It's funny, I actually take a highlighter and write in big letters FE on the work order and hang it over my desk. It makes me think I still have some control of this madness.
 I passed up three decent days this week to ride the bike to work. I just felt preoccupied. I think I can get through this busy season if I just schedule things in the right order. Take care of the big accounts, then the new ones that look like shit with all their weeds, then the loyal customers that have pretty clean yards right now and just get regular maintenance. Squeaky wheel gets the grease and put out fires in between.
 I know I've been preoccupied because the other day my wife caught me looking off into space and asked what I was thinking about. I replied "the maximum application rate of acelepryn insecticide".
Allllllllrighty then.

 Today is the Slimey Crud Run. If you're going, have fun. I'll be spending time with my wife on our 29th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Honey!

 Just for fun I'll add a link to a funny skit from back when I used to like SNL. "We put a label on every bag. It says Kid, be careful, broken glass". Funny shit.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Vicious Cycle

 As a two stroke service tech there's a certain amount of tools I need to get the daily job done. It's not a lot of tools like say, a diesel mechanic or an all brand auto mechanic would need, but its a fair amount if you include model specific specialty tools. That doesn't mean I don't have an assload of tools in multiple boxes, it just means some stuff gets used a lot more than other stuff.
 When I was a young lad I remember my grandpa giving me a Christmas present of a craftsman 1/2" drive socket set. This was my first set of new tools that weren't plastic toys and it set the tone for what brand of tools I would buy. He was a great small engine mechanic and used craftsman tools and I wanted to be like him. For much of my adult wrenching life I had to go out and find what I wanted at the store. There was no internet and the only tool trucks that ever stopped at my place of employment were guys with out of state plates selling odd equipment of questionable origin. That's not the case where I work now. The craftsman line isn't really what it used to be and I've been buying whatever brand the vendors that stop by the shop have on sale when I need something.
 Lately I've been thinking about what a dollar really gets me in the form of tools. If I buy the cheap stuff I'll use it daily with ok results and have to replace it multiple times. If I spend more money on quality tools, they get replaced under lifetime warranty and the dude comes to me.
 I've also been thinking about the quality of the work I put out. I don't have much stuff come back for a rework, In fact I can't remember the last time it happened but when it does it bothers me. I know it's just chain saws and weed wackers but some of that stuff is contractor equipment that needs to run so that guy can put food on his table. With the kids out of the house it feels like I can take all of this more seriously. There's time for it. No band concerts or dentist appointments or any of those other responsibilities that weigh on a parent every day. My wife and I spend the evenings together, maybe get out for a bike ride or dinner date on the weekend and that's it. The rest is work and I refuse to suck at and hate my job.
 So where am I going with this? Simple. I spent some of this:

To buy some of these:

So I can better fix these:

 So I can make more money to buy more tools to fix more broken crap...