Over the course of the last ten years, we’ve replaced a lot of windows in this house, by fits and starts. As we’ve worked on each room as a project, I’ve pulled the old out and put the new in, which means we’ve got a mix and match set of manufacturers, from Pella to Andersen to Mi depending on where you are. I don’t see it as a bad thing—Andersens are in the office, Pellas are in the den, and Mi is everywhere else. (Side note: the Pellas are garbage; their mullions are made of cardboard and the windows are sticky to close. The Andersens are better, easier to use and clean. The Mi windows aren’t as good looking as the first two, but are much more affordable and very sturdy).

I decided I needed to line up a project on the house for this fall, and priced out windows for the upstairs. What we’re talking about here is all of the bedrooms and the stairwell window—the master bathroom got new glass years ago. That’s nine windows in total, with the four front windows being 4″ taller than the rest. Back before ‘Rona I thought that $400 a window was a lot of money to spend, but when the price of everything went up because of “supply chain issues” I figured I’d wait it out until things settled back down. I’m now reading about inflation and recession and the End Times and figure the prices probably won’t return to where they were in 2020, so now was as good a time as any.

So today I placed an order for nine replacement windows with the remainder of our HELOC money, and in six to eight weeks we’ll have a stack of new glass waiting for me to swap out. I figure I’ll start in Finley’s room and work my way across the front of the house, then move around to the back side. I had a pretty good system going when I finished the living room windows, so hopefully I can perfect the process and make it go quickly.

Date posted: September 28, 2022 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Hey! look at that. See it? Up there in the left corner of the right-side window?

I was worried that my sticker was gonna be the biggest one there, but I’m relieved to see it’s not.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: September 27, 2022 | Filed under Inspiration, Scout | Comments Off on Internet Famous

I’m playing this one on repeat not only because I love the chord progression and melody structure, but because I’m also trying to wipe Fleetwood Mac’s “Everyone” out of my head after hearing it eighty times on Sunday afternoon watching football. This is “Brushed” by Quicksand, a band that scraped the ground floor of fame in the 90’s before breaking up; I’ve mentioned them before here but they put a new album out last year that I really dig. This song builds and builds but right where you think there should be a soaring chorus to release that tension, it fades back and ends abruptly.

Date posted: September 27, 2022 | Filed under music | Leave a Comment »

We say a lot of things about Hazel. She’s a good girl; she’s out of control. She’s a smart dog; She’s a moron. She’s a sharp as a tack; she’s a mess. All of it is true. She’s a mixture of very intelligent breeds that have combined in her brain to create a lovable schizophrenic who is a slave to her own conflicting instincts. She is desperate to be put to work: She wants to hunt for game but is continually sidetracked by the scent of rodentia. She can be passed out cold but the faint bark of a horny fox will send her into convulsions. We take her to the Farmer’s Market every chance we get, but the presence of other dogs means I’ve got to hand off my coffee and choke up on the leash to make sure she doesn’t get tangled up in the crowd. To her credit, she’s never the dog to bark or growl; I’m usually able to get her away from the other dog quick enough to avoid that.

Her smell has been getting pretty foul lately, and the frito smell from her paws has been strong, so I got her to follow me up to the bathtub to get ready for a bath. She knows what the bathroom is all about and doesn’t really enjoy being in there, but she followed me in and sat on the rug, waiting for me to prepare. I realized I’d forgotten the baking soda, so I gave her the WAIT command and ran downstairs to grab it. It took a little longer than I was expecting to find it, but I also grabbed the marshmallows and ran back up. As I reached the top of the stairs, I was happily surprised to see her sitting quietly where I’d left her, clearly aware I was about to give her a bath, but resigned to her fate. I gave her a handful of marshmallows.

She is a beautiful, maddening mess of a dog, but I love her very much.

Date posted: September 25, 2022 | Filed under hazel | Leave a Comment »

I follow a bunch of Scout folks on Instagram, and some of them post really helpful tips from time to time. A week ago or so someone posted a picture of Kleen Strip concrete & metal prep, explaining that it’s basically the same thing as Evaporust, in a concentrated format—for a fraction of the price. I got a gallon of it at Lowe’s for $20 and thinned a small amount with three parts water. I was amazed at how fast and how strong it worked. Evaporust is good stuff but I found it dies out pretty quickly after the first batch of whatever I throw in it, so this is a welcome addition to the restoration toolbox.

Now that I’ve painted the transmission tunnel cover black, put in a black dash pad, sprayed the floors with black bedliner, and generally erased as much of the purple nonsense as possible, I’ve been looking at my khaki green glove box door with disapproval. I pulled it out of the truck, removed the lock barrel, and scuffed it with sandpaper before hitting it with three coats of black semigloss. Reinstalled it makes the whole thing look better—but now all I can see is that stupid purple dashboard. Maybe I need to just tape the whole thing off and spray it black…

My hunt for a set of black PT Cruiser seats continues. Our local junkyards have an app that sends alerts when particular cars hit the yards, and I check every time one comes in. It’s been a year and I’ve had zero luck. I think that option must have been in low demand in 2009. Meanwhile, Dan at the Binder Boneyard just announced a new product: a set of seat bases incorporating a locking access door. An added bonus is that they’re an inch shorter to accommodate aftermarket seats, something that would improve my seating position immensely.

The truck has been making a lot of noise on the passenger side for the past couple of months, something I’ve dealt with in the past on the driver’s side. The culprit then was the exhaust manifold gasket, which had disintegrated, so the effect was basically that of open headers—not the most neighborly situation when driving through town. I pulled the passenger wheel off the truck to better access the gasket and found myself cursing the engineers once again; instead of putting the bolts fore and aft of the pipe in easy to reach positions, they put them port and starboard, which makes one easy to reach and the other impossible.

And there isn’t enough room on the top bolt to get a box head wrench around it, so it’s all guesswork and busted knuckles. I couldn’t get the back bolt to budge, but found that the front bolt was still in good shape, as was the gasket. Turns out there’s another gasket above the pipe, two metal plates with something sandwiched in between, which has disintegrated, and that’s where the sound and fury is coming from. I’ve got to call Super Scouts and see if they have a replacement for that.

While I had the wheel off I measured the amount of backspacing on the rim so that I could compare it with the stock rim I have the spare mounted on; this will tell me how viable the spare is or if it won’t fit properly. Measuring the American Racing rims, there’s 4 1/8″ from the edge of the rim to the mounting surface, while on the stock rim there’s 3 7/8″. This means the inside edge of the wheel is closer to the frame on the stock wheel, making the turning radius wider—the wheel will hit the leaf springs sooner on the stock wheel because it’s closer to the truck.

I kind of dig the way steelies look on the truck, I have to admit…

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: September 23, 2022 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Saturday Tinkering

I fell down a Paper Girls rabbit hole this week and rewatched the series; SO GOOD. Fuck Amazon for canceling it before it even aired (that’s pretty much the gossip online; apparently they cut the approved budget before filming started, so it was a scrappy production to begin with). I then went back and reread the comic series. Looking at Cliff Chiang’s artwork in this book is inspiring. He’s an incredible draftsman, and the usage of color is exquisite as second and third layer information. Characters look different from each other, and his command of facial expressions is perfect for a story that requires a lot of subtle detail not included in the dialogue. I’ve been reading a lot of comics online lately, and it’s pretty amazing how lousy some artists can be at everything but drawing identical spandex weightlifters.

Finley was ambivalent about reading it early this year, even after I’d reserved the first two books from the library. I put the trade paperback in my Amazon cart to be purchased with our next order; I’ll wear her down. 

* * *

And speaking of the library, I got an email that notified me my hold on the ebook of Heat 2 was available. Heat is one of my favorite movies—it was probably the second or third DVD I bought, back when they were $40—so I was very excited to hear Michael Mann was writing a prequel to the movie. By all accounts it’s a good read, so I’m anxious to dive in and see where it goes.

Date posted: September 22, 2022 | Filed under books, entertainment | Leave a Comment »

warming tray 2

Happy Birthday, monkey.

Date posted: September 21, 2022 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Way back in early 2000’s I was playing around with home automation and had varying degrees of success. That system was pre-smartphone, so it ran on your computer and used a clever plug that transmitted signals through the wiring in the house to all the connected devices. I ran it off an old iMac I’d salvaged from somewhere and used the latest version of the software, but it was still glitchy (that was the last CRT computer I owned). It worked OK but I was never really able to build a solid case for investing hundreds of dollars into the gear and software, so I gave up on it.

These days Apple has HomeKit, which is an out of the box automation framework that hooks up to a whole fleet of (relatively inexpensive) peripheral gear. I spent $20 on two smart plugs last week and gave them a try. They are simple on/off switches, so they act as slightly smarter versions of the plug-in light timers we already own. They took all of a minute to register with HomeKit, and I quickly had a light in the living room hooked up to one. With one tap on my phone, the light turns on and off. But this kind of sucks, because I can’t just walk into the room and turn on that smart-connected light without a cellphone, and we don’t live the kind of regimented life where timer-controlled lights make sense. They’re great for when we travel, and I’ll probably swap out all of the old mechanical timers this year, but I can’t think of a use case for these plugs other than that. (I’m not buying an Alexa or HomePod to voice-activate anything, before you ask).

Now that I know it works, I’m going to explore some of the more expensive options for automation—maybe  a system set up to control the door locks, for example, allowing us to open the door without a key. But what I’d really like is to replace the thermostat with something programmable from somewhere other than the keypad; our Honeywell unit is about 15 years old and takes three hours of button-mashing to program every time the batteries die. The trick is to avoid the larger monopoly ecosystems; Google bought Nest back in the day and Amazon just bought iRobot—so now Bezos knows how much lint is under our couch. A couple of years ago I picked up a cheap Wyze camera for the house to see what Hazel was doing in her spare time but recently found out their system had been hacked and wide open for several years. Glad I only used that camera for the weeklong demo period. 

Meanwhile, we bought a Nest doorbell cam for Bob’s house to keep an eye on things remotely, which I installed on Sunday. The physical installation went fine but trying to set it up through his phone revealed that the Verizon rep completely fucked up his account setup, so that they were sending his bills to Pennsylvania and shut his phone off for nonpayment. We’re sorting that mess out now.

Date posted: September 19, 2022 | Filed under apple, geek, house | 2 Comments »

I took the day off from work to burn through vacation time before I lose it on October 1, and after my original plan for the day fell through I decided to tackle the windshield project. As it turned out, I’m glad I had the full 8 hours, because I wound up needing it.

To recap, I had a new windshield frame prepped and ready to go, because I had no idea what condition the frame on the truck was in. I might pull the gasket off and find the metal held together with Ritz crackers and wood glue. I had a new gasket ready and a clean, clear windshield from the Flintstone Scout waiting in the basement. Having pulled that glass from the truck only last year, I was familiar with the process, and all it really took was a utility knife. After cutting the lip off the gasket, I was able to push the glass outward just hard enough to get it free and put a crack right down the center. Oh well; I’m never using it again anyway. With a deep breath, I pulled the gasket off to find that the metal really wasn’t bad at all. In many respects this frame is the best of all three that I have—there were only two small holes on the driver’s side right below the channel, and the only crusty part of the lip was right above them. The rest was mainly just surface rust, and after masking things off I hit it all with the wire wheel and then some Rust Encapsulator.

Next up was mounting the gasket. This took some patience and a roll of painter’s tape, because once I’d gotten the bottom started the top didn’t want to set up correctly. I worked on it for a while and took a break with one area on the passenger’s side to go. After a snack and a pee break I came back out, looked at it a little differently, and got it in place in about five minutes. I’m glad I had the spare and took time back in May to practice on it, because it did take a while to understand exactly how it mounted to the frame.

Now to the hard part. I carefully laid the new glass in place along the bottom and eased it into the channel, then started working the edge into the gasket up the driver’s side. All of the videos and instructions say to use a special rope that has a certain amount of friction to sort of pull the gasket into place; I didn’t have that rope. I found that paracord did not work well—it was too slippery and the glass seemed to shave fiber from the edge of the cord. What I did have were a set of pallete knives I use for scraping, which have rounded edges: perfect for pushing on rubber without cutting it, and wide enough that they could handle a lot of material. With more patience and liberal application of soapy water, I got the driver’s side vertical started and up to the top horizontal section, where I stalled out again.

After some lunch I came back out and rethought the situation. Using the pallete knives I pushed on the rubber while adding careful pressure to the glass to get it to sink into the gasket as I moved to the left. It took some practice and there were some frightening moments where I was sure I was going to crack the glass, but I got the passenger’s side vertical into the gasket and then slowly pushed the glass into the top section until the gasket captured it all with a quiet “thup”.

This gasket has an integrated locking loop, which took more soapy water and the pallete knife to tackle, but that went relatively quickly compared to everything else. I ran out to the store for some rearview mirror glue, and popped the mounting puck off the old windshield with careful application of heat from a propane torch. When that cooled off I glued it in place and washed the windshield down with Windex.

I started at about 9AM and had the glass settled and sealed by 3:30; it took an hour to go get the mirror glue, prep it, and install everything (it needs time to cure on the glass). On the road, it’s a completely different story. The glass is clear and bright; the setting sun doesn’t turn everything opaque, and at night the lights from oncoming cars don’t become blinding. It’s like driving a new truck. After fourteen years of squinting through a vaseline-covered lens, it’s an incredible upgrade, something I should have tackled years ago. I’m glad I finally took the time to think it through and prepare for it properly.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: September 16, 2022 | Filed under Repairs, Scout | Comments Off on I Can See Clearly Now

Cousin Margaret was awesome enough to send me a box of antique cameras few years ago, and there’s one sitting on my shelf that I’ve been meaning to load up with film since then. I haven’t really been shooting much of anything over the last couple of years, but I’ve been thinking that we need some updated family portraits. What’s been stopping me is the film loading method for this camera, which is much different than the Rollei and my current Yashica; there are no guides or arrows for starting the counter—there’s no counter on this camera at all, actually. I did a little digging and YouTube delivered, yet again: this nice man explains the difference between what I’m used to and the simplicity of how they did things in 1938.

His camera has a counter, but it’s the little window at the bottom which tells you where your film is and when to shoot; there’s no mechanical assist with the shutter button on mine. Good to know.

Date posted: September 15, 2022 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »