Welding is Fun!

After two years I finally got my welder fired up and working. The instructions I got from the welder manufacturer on how to wire up the plug were wrong, wrong, wrong. I had to remove the case of the welder to see where the hot and ground was inside the machine to get it right. I had 110 volts going to the case of the welder. I could have shocked myself or damaged the welder.

My neighbor gave me an old truck hood, so I brought it home and started to practice. The hood was in two parts. I stripped off the underside; the support structure and cut it up to practice on. I had a very hard time welding this material. I couldn't get the weld smooth and I had a hard time judging the amount of current necessary. This material must be too thin.

I thought I had poor technique or didn't know how to weld until I tried a couple of pieces of zinc bar that were laying around the shop. I welded these two pieces of zinc bar and it worked great. The problem wasn't me but the poor material I was using. Maybe the top part of the hood will be thicker and will weld better.

I learned that your material has to be very clean and the two pieces have to mate well. Now I'm wondering if I should use old automotive sheet metal from a junk car or just go buy new sheet metal?


Spike TV to Broadcast Champ Car Series

A new TV deal announced today has the Champ Car series airing on Spike TV.  All 16 races are scheduled to be televised starting with the first race, the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 18, 2004.

Spike TV, owned by Viacom, calls itself, "The First Network for Men". It used to be TNN, The Nashville Network.   Satellite provider Echostar Dish Network) has just dropped all Viacom programming in a contract dispute.


11 Ways to Keep Writing

When I think about the craft of writing I remember a scene from the dark comedy Throw Mama From the Train starring Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito. Crystal plays writing instructor Larry Donner and DeVito plays his obsessed student, Owen. In a class lecture, Donner keeps repeating this advise -- A Writer Writes.

It sounds a bit simplistic but the advice is true. A writer writes -- and keeps writing.

It can be difficult to write when you may be uninspired, suffering from writer's block, or just plain tired after a long day. Here are eleven tips to keep writing in the face of adversity.

1. Set writing priorities according to due dates, project size, degree of difficulty, and importance of the assignment.

2. Start early. This gives you flexibility when the unexpected happens.

3. Develop a writing routine same time, same place. Avoid doing other things in your writing place.

4. Use good lighting and avoid distractions. Eliminate background noise, and don't get too comfortable.

5. Minimize time spent getting ready no more than 5 minutes.

6. When you don't feel like it, write anyway. This strengthens your routine and moves you steadily toward your goals. No Excuses!

7. Tackle your most difficult writing chores first, while you are fresh.

8. Develop the habit of writing alone. Limit interactions with others to getting missed information or to review.

9. Focus on one writing project at a time.

10. Take regular short breaks, but no more than 10 minutes per hour.

11. Schedule well enough in advance that the night before a deadline the writing part of project is done. Spend the last few hours polishing and improving what you've already written.

If you follow these guidelines, you'll find writing becoming easier and more enjoyable. If you consider yourself a writer, remember what Larry Donner says, A Writer Writes.


Exciting Start to the F1 Racing Season

The Ferraris were dominant but that's to be expected. I think Michael Schumacher got a scare last year when the championship looked to be in doubt. They used the off-season to test and build in reliability. How long can Ferrari dominate? How long will Michael Schumacher race?

The poor performance of McLaren was surprising. Especially the engine failure due to water pump problems. They knew the rules mandated reliable engines this year. I think they were the only team to have an engine failure. I expect them to get back on track soon.

We know Montoya will be leaving Williams after this year. Rumor has Ralf Schumacher going to Renault next year. So Williams will be looking for two new drivers. I think Williams still suffers from internal conflict between BMW and Frank Williams. The BMW engine is strong and Frank Williams sees no fault with the chassis.

Until the conflict is resolved that team will fail to unseat the Ferraris.  It was encouraging to see the BAR team do well. Jensen Button continues to improve. I would also like to see the Toyota team improve this year. With all their resources they really should be doing better. It was a shame to see Mark Webber out so early in front of his home crowd. Renault looks to be building on the success of last year I think this is the year that Renault runs with the top teams.