We enjoyed a somewhat quiet weekend with our friend Christopher visiting from New York, which meant there wasn’t a lot of movement other than switching from the living room to the porch. The weather kept flipping back and forth from sunny to overcast, but I was able to go rent a ladder from Home Depot—I have a 7′ stepladder and a 24′ extension ladder but nothing in between, which makes painting 12′ eaves difficult—and clean up the first floor trim. Then I brought the tools and a leaf blower up to the roof of the porch, scraped about seven of the bays in the eaves, and hit them with a coat of fresh white paint. Then I blew all of the paint chips off which made it look much cleaner. There are a bunch more to do but it already looks worlds better up there.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are all looking very happy, and more of the plants are producing fruit. I’ve got to look in to proper fertilization to avoid blossom end rot and pull a couple of runty plants out to make way for the bigger ones.

Date posted: June 14, 2021 | Filed under friends, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »

There hasn’t been much going on with the Scout, other than trips around town. Frankly, we don’t get out much, so anytime I have to use a car I take the Scout. She starts right up and is always ready to go, and for that I’m thankful.

I’ve been slowly futzing with the ammo can toward the eventual goal of getting it permanently installed this summer. Where we left off was engineering a way to secure a hasp to the bottom of the can in the least obtrusive way possible. I’ve been thinking I’d drill and bolt it to the bottom to have the hasp stick out to meet the staple, which would be bolted to the bed of the truck. Where the can is positioned now, the staple would bolt down into the main crossmember at the rear of the bed, which would be perfect. But now I’m second-guessing myself and wondering if the staple should be on the can and the hasp be hinged and bolted to the floor of the truck so the staple isn’t sticking up when the can isn’t in place. I’ll have to go out and stare at it some more before pulling out the drill. In the meantime I bought some seam sealer to close up the gaps my shitty welding blew through, and found some flat olive spray paint that almost matches the color of the can for the welded sections.

My next project will be to install some heat matting on the inside firewall to knock some of the temperature back out of the cabin. She runs very hot in the summertime, and any thermal protection I can get will be welcome. So I have to pull any vestigal insulation out from under the dash, clean up the firewall as best I can, and then cut and roll the insulation into place. I’d love to put it all the way down the transmission tunnel but I’ll likely never add carpeting to the truck and I don’t want it to get chewed up. We’ll see how well this works. I’m also going to throw a patch on the inside of each door to reduce the sound they make in the cabin and when the doors close.

Finally I’m thinking about seating position. I put the bikini top on last night and remembered that it touches my head when I’m sitting at a light. This is because The PT Cruiser seats are an inch or two higher than the stock buckets.

Going back down a little to the stock height is a possibility. I’ve got two spare steel seat bases in the garage that could be cut and welded to sit lower on the floor; I just need to figure out how I’d bend the metal cleanly inside the box. I toyed with the idea of buying/building a small metal brake of some kind, but then I thought about how two short pieces of angle iron bolted to a bench would give me exactly the results I need at a fraction of the cost.

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

Date posted: June 9, 2021 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Updates and Small Projects

Tweedy Pie was a Model T custom made in the early 1950’s that influenced hundreds of other cars before fading into obscurity. The author of these well-made videos does a deep dive into the history of the car, and then details his quest to build a replica. Half of the videos are in-progress fabrication and the other half are his travels around Southern California to friends’ houses and shops to source period-correct parts. There are many reasons I’m glad I don’t live in California, but the hot rod scene out there is something I definitely wish I was closer to.

Date posted: June 7, 2021 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »


Things are coming along in the greenhouse. There are already several sets fruit on one of the Roma plants, and the cherry plants are close behind. Everything is flowering so I’ve been out there flicking the stems to fertilize as much as I can. It’s all a lot lower to the ground this year—cutting the extra shoots and branches way back has kept a lot of the plants focused on producing blooms instead of reaching skyward, and if I stay on top of that, their energy will translate into more and better tomatoes.


The sap from the oak tree falls onto the plastic and collects dirt quickly, so I bought a cheap mop and scrubbed one side yesterday. I have to get back out there and do the far side one morning before it gets too hot, and that will further increase the sunlight getting in there.

Date posted: June 6, 2021 | Filed under greenhouse, photo | Leave a Comment »

house_paint 1

house_paint 2

house_paint 3

Date posted: June 6, 2021 | Filed under house, photo | Leave a Comment »

Here’s about two minutes of cicadas droning in the backyard yesterday. The birds are louder because they’re closer, but you get the idea.

Date posted: June 3, 2021 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »


Sadly, the pretty Mustang that’s been sitting in our driveway is headed to California tomorrow. Matt organized a pickup, and while it’s been fun having it here, I can’t really drive it much due to mechanical and legal worries. It really deserves to be out of the rain and in the warm dry sunshine of Southern California. So off it will go to automotive Valhalla to make someone very happy.

* * *

I’ve been fooling around with some illustration during my downtime, and the more I work on it the more I want to try out some methods I’ve seen online using an iPad Pro. Before I spend a shit ton of money, I’d like to test drive the process. It turns out my favorite lens rental company also rents iPads, and for about $120 I can try one out for a week to see if I like it. The idea of being able to do scratchboard-like work with an Undo button and have it go right to vector artwork is super-appealing, and the ability to change brushes and sizes on the fly is even more interesting. So when I get paid next week, I’m going to give this a try.

* * *

Digging around in the idiotking archives I found some now outdated links to the timelapses I shot painting the house in 2004; I found the original picture sequence, built a new timelapse file, and put it up on YouTube:

Date posted: June 2, 2021 | Filed under cars, drawing, house | Leave a Comment »


As of Monday morning, I’ve got the west, south, and east sides sprayed out. All of the eaves on the west and south sides are scraped and painted, and all of the windows save two have been cleaned up and painted. The lift is back in the driveway, waiting for pickup. I’ve used five gallons of paint so far, and forecast at least another two before the house is complete (the garage will be next). The next phases are going to be a little more complicated:

  • Crawling out onto the roof of the new bathroom to hit the peak on the east side, as well as scraping and painting the eaves up there
  • Pulling the shutters off the front of the house and spraying the siding on the second floor
  • power washing the front of the house
  • Building a platform over the front porch to make it easy to scrape and paint the eaves
  • Ladder work to spray out the first floor of the front porch
  • Finally, some creative and tricky ladder work to spray out the siding on the southeast corner, where the garage, electrical wires, and shitty geometry all conspire to make painting next to impossible.

What I Did With My Summer Vacation.
(August 2005)

I think my focus will be on the front to get things cleaned up as soon as possible before I worry about the back, and frankly I’d like to be off a swaying boom lift for as long as it takes to get my land legs back.

Date posted: June 1, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

When I was a kid my Dad gave me his wooden X-Acto toolkit and a plan for a balsa wood Sopwith Camel. I spent hours in the basement cutting and gluing and assembling and doping (the fabric, not myself) until I had a working, barely flyable airplane model. I graduated on to a TBM Avenger that I kept for awhile until my buddy Stas and I filled it with fireworks and flew it off the roof of the house to explode over the driveway (Hi, Mom!).

Finley has decided she wants to make a miniature kitchen set with working appliances, and the plan we found online is constructed with balsa wood and glue. In helping her work on the project this afternoon, I recall the pleasure of completing the models and flying them, and the hours of painstaking work it took to get them there.

Working with balsa wood again, I’m really tempted to buy a new model and start building it; this B-24 has a 4′ wingspan and looks like it would be fun as hell to assemble but it’s currently on backorder. Maybe that’s a good thing…

Date posted: May 30, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

This morning is rainy and wet, so there won’t be any painting today. All week the forecast predicted showers off and on, threatening to make our rented lift an expensive lawn ornament, but thankfully the major rain pushed back until late yesterday. I started Friday out at the peak of the west side, going over sections that needed another coat of blue. This time the lift felt a little squirrelier than last time, so I was happy to be done with that area and down on the ground.


I drove the lift out into the yard and backed it up to the house but couldn’t get the leveling beeper to stop no matter how I oriented it. I finally scooched it as close to the garage as I could and swung the boom around to reach the sections I wanted to hit, careful to avoid both the main electrical and phone wires ever so thoughtlessly placed in the center of the back wall.

By 1PM I was able to power wash the upper center section of the back wall, blow off a bunch of white paint I couldn’t reach from the bucket, and then start spraying blue paint in patchwork fashion as I moved the bucket around. Around then it started to drizzle so I came back down, put the tools away, and napped with Hazel for a glorious two hours.

Jen let me know there was a window from 4 to about 7 where it wouldn’t rain, so I hooked the sprayer back up and shot as much as I could reach with the lift in place, and I was able to do about 80% of the back wall before it started sprinkling again.

The plan for Monday, when the weather-guessers claim it will be clear again, will be to paint as much of the eaves as I can with the lift. That will mostly be the center section and possibly some of the area over the kitchen door if I can get the lift over there comfortably. The right side is the question mark. The lift leans toward the garage, so if I swing the lift toward the driveway and extend the boom, it tilts too far for me to feel comfortable, especially at that height. I’ll scrape and paint the windows as quick as I can, but everything at stepladder height can wait for later.

The whole southeast corner of the house is the  problem due to the wires I mentioned earlier, the position of the garage, and the complicated geometry which makes it difficult to put a ladder anywhere stable. If I’ve got time on Monday I’ll see if I can orient the lift to a place where I can reach that area, but I don’t have much hope. So I think I might be doing a lot of pole work from either the roof of the new bathroom or hiring someone to hang their ass out on a ladder to finish it.

Date posted: May 29, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »