Working on a video for YouTube

I got a clock kit and wanted to modify it. This video is being made to document some of the fun I had doing this! When it’s done I’ll put it up on YouTube.

Eating Healthy!

We have long been wanting to eat better.  I’ve taken a nutrition class and we have attended Weight Watchers meetings. We wanted to learn more.


My wife came across the ‘documentary’ called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross and it made us think “we should juice”.  Joe’s primary audience is the more extreme cases, and his tool is the ‘juice fast’ or as he calls it, a ‘reboot’.  Fiber is good for some bodily functions, but the nutrition is not in the fiber, it’s in the juice, so juicing, even occasionally, is for everybody!

(click watch the movie here)
. We got a juicer (one of the recommended juicers, the Breville Juice Fountain Elite) and we enjoyed the juice.  This juicer is of the ‘centrifugal’ variety; it spins at high RPMS to shred and extract juice.  It works great for the harder fruits and veggies and somewhat less well for soft fruits (think banana) and leafy green veggies.  Read this Wikipedia article to learn more about the types of juicers.

John Kohler talks about Juicers

John Kohler talks about Juicers

We read web pages and watched videos on juicing.  A man named John Kohler has done quite a few videos on YouTube to support his business ‘Discount Juicers’ but the amount of information he presented gave me confidence in making purchasing decisions.


We got the Breville juicer used on Craigslist.  It is a very good juicer, fast, feels high quality, but you still have to clean and sometimes chop your food and clean up the juicer when you are done. If you want to juice then there is some work involved!

Phase 2

Within a month I became curious about my leafy green veggies. I wanted to know if I could get more juice out of them and so decided to get a “crushing” or “chewing” (masticating) juicer. I found a nice used one on Craigslist, the Omega VRT350 vertical masticating juicer.  This is a NEAT machine.  The hole on top is not as large as the Breville juicer but I didn’t generally throw whole apples in anyway so it was fine, especially if I had a helper peeling and chopping while I fed the juicer.

Omega VRT350 Heavy Duty Dual-Stage Vertical Single Auger Low Speed Juicer

I really enjoy juicing but it does take time.  I would generally spend an hour per evening doing the preparation, juicing and cleanup of the machine to make enough juice for myself and my wife for the next day, and on rare occasions, up to two hours, depending on what I made.


I also found a Breville Hemisphere blender on CL and we tried it for a while but were not happy with it’s style of blending. Then one day we were at Costco and heard a really good presentation on the Vitamix blender. The food was good and it looked very easy. When he said “if it’s quick, you’ll do it every day” I was sold (remembering the 2 hours I spent one night with the juicer). They were “$100 off” of the $475 price so I ended up spending about $400 on it, with tax, but I do actually use it every day. 🙂


Here’s a link to the Vitamix site.

Blending is not juicing. I tried blending carrots in the Vitamix and guess what you get… baby food, not carrot juice! I think the combination is a ‘best of both worlds’ thing.  The Vitamix is hands down a better blender than the Breville Hemisphere so I’ve sold the Breville blender on CL. I really like the Breville juicer and since the thing I mainly make with the blender has two whole handfulls of kale or spinach, I could get the leafy greens from the blender and the fruits and harder veggies from the juicer. The Breville would work fine this way, and it is faster but the Omega is more thorough even if a bit slower.  I had to pick so, for now, I’m selling the Breville and keeping the Omega.

I have a car that costs less than this juicer!

I have a car that costs less than this juicer!

More Juicers

I couldn’t finish this without mentioning triturating juicers, like the Green Star. They use twin interlocking gears. They have their own unique benefits and liabilities.  At $2495, the top end has to be the Norwalk 280 juicer, with it’s two stage combination of trituration and an actual hydraulic press!  Try doing a web search of Norwalk and an alternative cancer cure called Gerson Therapy.

Controversy alert!

There are some other things you might enjoy looking at. One being the vegan diet touted in the movie Forks Over Knives (which some claim is bad science). We got the recipe book! One of the doctor’s sons, a fireman, has the Engine 2 Diet website with more recipes and even exercise videos. Going vegan may be too much even if you ‘stay mainstream’ but few would argue against reducing meat and sweets combined with increasing fruit and vegetables. And exercise!

And Finally…

Look at the current research and evangalizing against GMO’s done by a woman named Vani Hari, a.k.a. the Food Babe, who has a lot to offer in the arena of healthy eating on her website,  Are GMO’s really bad for you?  Who really knows; the big food moguls have only just started experimenting on us.  What is proven is that it’s more profit for them.  The case is still out on whether we grow a third eye, gills or have new as yet unnamed diseases to die from, or if they are, in fact, harmless.  With no serious body of evidence (certainly not independent of ‘big food’s labs) it’s all opinions at this point.  My goal is to look for reduced ingredient counts and good ingredients in that short list!

Eat healthy!

It never smelt so right :)

So I finally did it… I got around to melting down those soft drink cans I’ve been collecting for years. I was going to make my own furnace, per these plans, a modification of the David Gingery Crucible Furnace. But something wonderful happened…

Geared up for a ‘melt’

My son bought a kiln and we installed it in the garage. It is supposed to reach slightly over 2000 degrees and that is plenty for aluminum. I began by adding cans one at a time with 18″ needle nose pliars. This causes the gloves to start smoking so I came up with a method where I ram a hole through the crushed can, slide them onto a metal rod like shish kebab, and then they will slide off rapidly when I’m ready to charge the crucible.

Nicole helping me charge the ‘furnace’.

Aluminum cans are supposed to be 95-98% pure, but they sure produce a lot of trash when you melt them.

Skimming the dross

Pouring an ingot

I have upgraded to actual firebrick for the two places where I need to set the crucible dawn, and I have some leather top boots to wear instead of the running shoes. I would also like to get much heavier shirt and pants, maybe leather or canvas.

Two half pound ingots

Once I get enough I will start experimenting with ‘lost foam’ and ‘greensand’ mold casting.

This is a link to my metal pouring images page (it’s just the rest of the smelting photos like what I’ve posted here)

Nostalga: The selling of “Old Reliable” a.k.a. “The Lizard”

She served me long and well, except for having to replace the transmission, and the engine twice…
When I decided to sell I wrote this ad and posted it on Craigslist.  It sold within a week (for $400).
I place it here now for your amusement.

photo of old car
Buy my ugly car – ’83 Pontiac 6000 LE
Date: 2010-05-31, 8:10PM
o 1983 Pontiac 6000 LE
o Forest green with red racing strip.
o 2nd owner – my sister was original owner (I’ve had the car since about 1993).
o 4 door sedan,
o 2.8L V6 carbureted,
o Front wheel drive
o 3 speed automatic transmission.
o Alloy wheels (but one is odd pattern)
o Tires are fair condition.
It’s a hybrid… sort of:
Body is from Pontiac.
Engine is from an 87 Buick Century.
Transmission is from an 85 Chevy Celebrity.
I have a few spares that come with the car.
The car runs but it’s just tired. I pulled a small enclosed trailer to Birmingham and back about 6 months ago (but it wasn’t my first choice).

The Good:
Engine runs well,
body in good shape (only two visible dings),
transmission is solid and shifts well,
all glass is intact,
leaks some oil but doesn’t really burn any,
good battery / alternator,
lights work (hi/low beam headlights, parking, turn signals, dash and interior),
gauge panel (temp/volts/oil pressure) – all gauges work,
working AM/FM/cassette player,
trailer hitch with ball, ball mount and 4-flat trailer connector,
air shocks / auto-leveling system works.
power windows work,
electric trunk lock works.
the car starts every time you get into it.
has a spare tire and I think it has a jack.

The Bad:
The paint looks like a skin disease – (I call it “The Lizard” because it’s green and scaly)
the headliner is coming apart and is sagging down in the back,
A/C is not working (but I have a new compressor and dryer and installed R-134 adapters)
Electrical part of A/C control in the dash has some burned contacts so it needs a new switch or hardwiring.
trip part of odometer is broken (but regular odometer works)
odometer only 5 digits so actual mileage is unknown.
power locks work on back doors only
power windows do work, but driver rear has a ‘creative’ non-oem switch installed.
driver power seat broken – motor spins but seat doesn’t move.
window gaskets rotted so doors collect water during rain (but they empty out if the drain holes are kept clean)
electric automatic FM antenna won’t retract (but it’s stuck in the ‘up’ position).
engine cooling fan automatic system failed so A/C switch must be left in Max or Normal to engage fan to prevent overheating.
if it sits for long the gas drains out of the carb and you have to pump the pedal twice and crank it, and repeat this three times.
I replaced the front struts and didn’t get it aligned so it pulls to the right a bit.
it takes a while for the alternator to kick in, couple of miles, or just rev the engine.
it takes a while for the car to go forward in drive when the car is cold.

So… I’ve had this car forever – we call it ‘old reliable’.
I went on my first honeymoon in this car – in 1983.
I used to show my 17 year old where he kicked of a glove box Pontiac 6000 emblem when he was just 1 and in a baby seat and where he broke the odometer trip reset when he was 5 because he was too curious!
This car was stolen back in the baby seat days and the police called us before we knew it was missing. Insurance paid for all the repairs.
A week ago my ‘good car’ broke down, with a trailer in tow, and I got this car and towed the trailer home before calling the tow truck for the ‘good’ car.

If you’re still reading you either need a car really badly or you just can’t believe your eyes.

If you are handy with cars then this car is for you.
If you don’t know where the oil dipstick is – don’t buy this car!

Sold as-is with no guarantees – as with so many things in life.
Thanks for looking.

The Great Pool Project (also called “Don’t try this at home”)

Let me give you the highlights of the The Great Pool Project that I’ve been working on for the last five years.

Photo of pool

Photo of pool

Back when (in 2004), it was a yard with a swing set, trees and a shed.

The backyard 'before'

Trees and shed

Gibson and Lucas on the hammock

Gibson and Lucas on the hammock

Someone at work put their above-ground pool up for sale on the employee classifieds. It was huge and only $800. I had always wanted a pool and this looked like the right ‘deal’. They even let me do ‘lay-away’ payments. And so it was that I bought and installed the largest above ground pool you can buy

'The Hill' at 3/4th level bottom

Man, shovel and wheelbarrow.
I didn’t want to rent a Bobcat so I dug and leveled the yard by hand.

Before I buried the trees with fill dirt I put brick ‘wells’ around the them to keep them from dying.  I used water as a tool to find out how level the pool actually was becoming.

Two of the trees had to go to make room for the pool. One was Nicole’s lovely peach tree.

Nicole's peach tree, bearing fruit.

Nicole's peach tree, bearing fruit.

I kept it maintained for 5 years and then last year the liner cracked.  Pool liner damage

Pool gone and moving out This year I decided to sell it and get my yard back!

With a shovel and a wheelbarrow and hard work!

Just level and add grass.

Pool hole almost gone.

‘Jap Strat’ purchased on eBay

Another addition to the Hering family in 2004 was this beautiful Stratocaster. It’s a sunburst colored mid-1980’s vintage Japanese made (MIJ) Fender Stratocaster that I found on eBay.  Much against my better judgment I bought it (you’re supposed to play them first) and I was quite pleased. It has a somewhat rare Fender System I tremolo that was built by Shaller (Wikipedia) who also make my favorite guitar strap locks.

Photo of Strat bridge

Photo of Strat bridge

The photos on the “Strat Bridge” page mostly represent my effort to find parts to complete the guitar. It was missing the ‘locking nut’ locks and a screw from the bridge.  I still haven’t purchased the original whammy bar, mostly due to the fact that a piece of tape makes a regular one work and the only place I found having one wanted $45 for it!  (Okay, I have to confess, I went back today and found one for only$25.  Maybe the other one was on eBay, or maybe my memory is just in error!)

My favorite car used to be a ’93 Teal Green Honda Accord, now it’s a …

… late model Dodge truck.

My favorite new wish list item

My favorite new ‘wish list’ item

As you may or may not know, in 2004 I purchased an example of said Honda off eBay, and without trying it out first. It was not good.

Aside from the fact that I rode the overnight bus to Greenville, SC to fetch it, the car turned out to have more problems than I was willing to deal with, and so after replacing the radiator and finding out that was not the source of the overheating… it got parked in the garage.  After the divorce, some time in 2007, it was rolled out, wouldn’t start and so I sold it ‘as is’ to someone with more enthusiasm for the vehicle.

As of the fall of 2009 the fleet (all ‘paid for’ vehicles I’m proud to say) stands at one 1983 Pontiac 6000, one 1997 retired police intercepter (bought untested from – will I ever learn?!?), one 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis, and one 1990 Toyota Supra (destined for Lucas – contingent on his high school performance – thus the name ‘red Jap carrot’).
I’m working on saving up for the next vehicle – and then I got laid off!  God will provide.

(note from 2013:  As I saved up and had most of the money and as I say “it got real” I began asking myself what I would do with a truck bed as opposed to covered hauling space.

2005 Ford Expedition

2005 Ford Expedition

I got a Ford Expedition instead.)

Photo essay of telescope I built in December 2001

“Greetings, greetings, fellow star gazers!” – Jack Horkheimer

After being shown that there were visible satellites in the dusk and dawn skies, including the ISS (International Space Station) I pulled out my trusty old binoculars and discovered that I could also just barely see what appeared to be the moons of Jupiter. That started a period of intense research into the world of astronomy.

My 6 dob ready for viewing the sky

My 6" dob ready for viewing the sky

This is a photo of the almost-finished telescope I built. I used a concrete form tube for the telescope barrel and OSB (plywood) for the base.  The observatory director of the Von Braun Astronomical Society loaned me an old 6″ mirror and a focuser and I built the rest from, you guessed it, plans on the internet.

So to say goodbye, again, as Jack would; “Keep looking up!”