Belize Blog Post 15 - More Power - Bigger MIG Welder!

Day 109 - January 26th - Saturday
Woke up to a rainy day, but its ok, I could sleep in, because its Saturday. That's the best day ever!

Anyway, I caught a ride with John into town, so avoided getting wet, and now I'm at the Chinese place doing the interwebs, so life is good.

More later!


Ok, its later, now I can write more!

I stayed at the Chinese restaraunt (Yim Saan) until about 7pm or so. Got pretty much everything done on my "Do when I get on the Internet" list... such as:

1. How much would a 30 foot motor sail yacht cost? (that might not be the best term, but that's what I was looking for) Turns out, wow, I saw about 30 of them in the $30,000 to $60,000 range. Which surprised me. And I was quite relieved, because when I first started looking, I saw much bigger ones in the $50,000,000 range. That freaked me out just a little bit. But wow, they were pretty nice looking! Anyway, maybe more on this later...

2. How many horsepower is the typical engine on a sailboat? (yeah I know, who thinks of motors on a sail boat anyway?) Well, it turns out, having some kind of motor is really handy when you're trying to get into or out of harbor, or at the fuel thingy.

3. How fast could a sailboat go under engine power? Ok, that would depend on too many other variables, but I found one source that said something about 8 knots. So that's a useful starting point.

4. Find out how to make a RSS Feed for my blogs. All my old blogs had RSS feeds on them, since Wordpress made it really easy. None of my new blogs have RSS, because I wrote the software that replaces Wordpress. And I just never got around to making the RSS file, and then automating it. I found some good templates, and realized I could make better use of my time to hack a quick one to get the feed set up, then automate it this week. Which means it probably won't happen. Or maybe I'll do it Sunday.

5. "Taxes and Forms". Ok, I got some good background stuff done there. I reopened my account online where I did my taxes last year. And the year before I guess too. I also finally got my passwords reset with my previous employer's payroll website, so I was able to update my address for them to mail my year end tax forms, which apparently haven't mailed out yet. So I guess there's still time to wait there.

6. Rewrite a gallery page, that uses thumbnails, to show all the pictures I've taken and posted from Belize. That is mostly working, still needs some more code. And the database is working, so now I can write a description and title and other fun meta data for each picture. That seems so lame, on the surface. But here's how it works. For each picture, there is 1) a Title 2) a Caption / Entry / Description 3) The file name 4) the location URL of the picture 5) the Thumbnail a) filename b) URL etc 6) a Photo Rating 7) date photo was taken 8) something else that I'm forgetting. In the old way, I'd have pictures sitting in a folder on the web server. Maybe loaded into sub folders for year and month. And then each time I wanted to use a picture, I'd have to type in all the other info, each time. This way, I can say "display picture 123" and the database feeds all of the above information from that photo to the webpage. All automagically. Anyway, the hard part of that is now coded. And all I have to do now is enter the descriptions, which I can do off line, then update it when I get back online.

7. I found some more books to download that I wanted, such as Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun. A real classic. I also tried to find the other book by the same author "Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun", but it wasn't available for download. There are days I wished I'd taken the time to scan some of the books I gave away over the years...

Think there was something else, but being the efficient lazy nerd I am, I deleted entries in the list as I finished them. Anyway, seemed like I got most of the important stuff done.

And of course there were all the emails, facebook updates, and catching up with all my other friends, pals, and online stalkers. Even some new ones that I've met here in the Jungle.

Not too bad for a Saturday, eh?

Day 110 - January 27th - Sunday
So, I'm sure some of you were wondering about the whole Sailboat thing there. Well, yeah, seems kind of silly to try to take a motorcycle around the world, seeing as most of Earth is water, right? So my options were air freight, ocean freight, or teaching the motorcycle to tread water. We'll see. But in the mean time, the sailboats I saw aren't all that expensive.

Something that I've noticed, in the Facebook posts, emails, and people I've talked to since I've been here... I'll hear people say, either directly or indirectly, something like "wow, we really admire what you're doing, but we could never do that... because". It kind of bothers me, because it all comes down to a choice. The cost of getting here was really not very much. The cost of living can be very small. Maybe its the cost of what you're leaving behind. I think the people who have the most, have the hardest time doing something different. At the beginning of 2012, I had a pretty nice car, an apartment, a job, and some stuff. Now I have none of those excuses!

Life is all about choices. I chose. You all choose. I don't think I'd ever choose what other people choose.


I spent most of the day fiddling around with the website stuff. I now have all the descriptions for the pictures done, so the next time I have internet, I can upload them, and that part will finally be done. Well, its kind of like home improvement, its never done, but at least now its functional!

By the end of the day, I felt like I was ready to get back to the roof.

Kind of reminds me of a line in the book "Think and Grow Rich" that I'm reading. When you're in the day to day stuff, you are too close to the problems to see the big picture. So the author talks about getting to a higher level, sort of like in an airplane, so you can see it from a better perspective. That's how I feel when I'm up on the roof. Down on the ground, the trees are too close, there is no real clear lines of site at all. I feel really closed in. But on the roof, I can see a long way. I am getting to like it up there. Weird right?

Day 111 - January 28th - Monday
I did some welding for John this morning, got the new welder all set up, switched it over to use the shielding as for the MIG welding, and welded some hardware. Wow, after using the flux wire, shielding sure makes a nice weld! Too bad I have to drag that big tank around all the time.

We started welding trusses onto one of the dorms, the second half.

At the beginning of today, we were planning to run 2 welder teams, so Mike was going to weld on one dorm, and I was going to weld on the other dorm.

After I got done welding John's stuff, I started laying all my cords and gas cylinders and hoses out on "my" dorm. By then it was almost break time, so I put off dragging the welder out, because the sky was still pretty dark and I thought it might rain. Turns out it never did rain today, so that's always a nice surprise!

Then Jack decided we should make some pieces that we'd need first, so that took until about lunch time.

By the end of lunch, we'd shifted gears, and I was then welding on the same team as Mike, in fact we had Kevin welding with the little MIG welder, so we were running 3 welders on the same roof. Now things are really flying!

By the end of the day, we had about half of the trusses standing up, and also the dutch hip roughed out. I think the plan will be to finish standing the trusses up tomorrow, then all of us jump over to the second dorm, get those trusses all up, then we'll split the welding teams up from there on.

As today was the first real day for using the new MIG welder, I can finally say its really working good. Its got LOTS of power, its turning out some really nice welds, and so far I haven't had any problem with it overheating. Hope that holds!

As we were coming off the roof, Leonie dropped by to visit. She was just getting back from some time up in Texas, and sounded like she was pretty happy to be back "home". She spent some time walking around looking at everything we've done so far.

Day 112 - January 29th - Tuesday
Tuesday. Yup.

More welding, we got the rest of the trusses standing up on the first dorm, and are starting to put up the perlins. Kind of crazy really, in that we have all the trusses up, and the dutch hip finished, and are putting on perlins. On the second day. When we first started the first building, that seemed to take forever! Learning something new is like that I guess.

We kept all 3 welders on this roof for today, and that worked really well. And so far, not a hick up on the new welder. I used up the first tank of the mix gas at the end of today, noticed things were getting kind of sputtery. So that's 2 good days of welding on about 1000 psi of tank, roughly half a tank. Think I might have a leak somewhere, but haven't been able to find it. At any rate, this should be the last tank of mix gas for the MIG welding, after this we'll just go back to using the flux wire. Much simpler, one less hose to drag around, etc. And like today, we'd end up unhooking the hose to move from one area to the other, then have to drag the tank along, and in the process then we'd lose the gas that was in the line.

In other news, wow, what a beautiful day. We actually got started working by 7:30, no waiting for the roof to dry and all that. It actually rained HARD last night, but the breeze dried things out pretty well. That, and since we weren't on the red part of the roof, traction really wasn't a problem.

It was pretty warm today, kind of a shock after the last week or two that its been cool. I'm about worn out now, after a good day baking in the sun, and dragging the welder around. And yes, the new welder is heavier than the old one. That extra 20 pounds really hits you at the end of the day!

Day 113 - January 30 - Wednesday
Wow, January almost gone already. Hard to believe!

A very strange day.

I ended up using all 3 welders, for at least a few minutes today. Mostly I used the new MIG, but then Mike was feeling bad, probably the flu that's been going around, so he went home, and I welded with the stick welder for a while. Then we were standing up trusses, and we had a welder on each end, and the little Lincoln MIG welder in the middle, so I'd weld my end, then walk to the middle and do a little tack weld on the brace, and Kevin would weld on the opposite end. Its turning out to be pretty amazing, the new MIG welder can weld a LOT faster than the stick welder. Some of it is in the adjustment I suppose, getting the heat dialed in, but then with the stick you have to chip, chip, chip, and with the MIGs you just weld, and you're done. I'm so used to being on the slow welder, playing catch up, or being on a roof by myself just filling in, that to suddenly be able to keep up, and even be faster, is a weird experience.

And so far, we've not been able to over heat the new welder at all, so that's a good thing too.

Dad got back to the Volunteer House just as we were wrapping up the work day, after his vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Sounds like they had a nice time. Maybe I'll have to check that place out sometime.

In the weather department, its HOT today. Yesterday was pretty warm too. I'm just wiped out today, head ache so I know I'm dehydrated still. I'm sitting out on my back deck, on the shady side of the building, and the breeze and the shade are sure a nice way to end the day.

Day 114 - January 31 - Thursday
Yeay, last "long day" before the half day on Friday.

Wow, another hot day today, worked up a good sweat just getting the tools and welder up on the roof, before we even got started!

Then after lunch, it was time to move over to the other roof, so got all tired and hot and sweaty again, just moving down the ladder, across the courtyard, and up onto the other roof. I seriously need to make a lift or a crane or something to get things up on the roof easier. Or at least that's what I'd do if this was my project!

That is something that keeps bugging me lately, the phrase "if this was my job"... I'd do what ever. I think I'm just tired of not being able to find something when I need it. Like a grinder that is probably in use somewhere else. We have 3 of them. Or the two new ladders. And we're running 3 crews. Well, actually more than that, because we have 3 welders, plus the guys doing plaster, so that could be 4 crews sometimes. It was hard enough getting them to buy the 2 ladders, and the 1 welder when we got started!

And maybe I'm just getting burned out, I'm thinking about what I'll do when I leave here, but I still have a couple months left still. So its hard being "in the now" and thinking about the rest of the year too. I read once that all progress was the product of intense disatisfaction, or pain! If things are mostly ok, you'd never change right?

Anyway, tomorrow is Friday, a half day. I think at the rate we're going, by the end of next week we should have all the roof metal on the two dorms, and then be ready to start the last building, Building A. That one is going to be the grand finale, in a lot of ways. Its the most complicated roof, its the biggest, its really quite insane to look at it.

As we were almost ready to wrap up tonight, like literally I had 2 more welds I wanted to do, it started raining. Not really hard, just a sprinkle. But I looked up and saw a nice rainbow. Not a bad way to end the day. Except now we're running 220 Volts on the welder, so it was a bit of a scramble to get unplugged and off the roof, just in case!

Day 115 - February 1 - Friday
Renew Visa!
So, got rained off the roof before noon today, so I hitched a ride with Dad into town to renew my Visa. Now we're getting some internet time in. Quality bonding! Seems so weird to have my laptop, and Dad has the Ipod!

Anyway, going to post this, and then fill in the details later.

By Carlin Comm posted on 2013-02-1