At the junkyard, after looking unsuccessfully for a CR-V part, I noticed a PT Cruiser with black fabric seats. This got my brain whirring; the replacement PT seats I’ve got are gray fabric and the rest of Peer Pressure’s interior is black (well, minus the original bench seat). The ones I saw were soaked by Hurricane Isaias two days later, but it’s something to look out for every month or so when I return—$60 for two seats is a cheap way to dress up the girl.

* * *

On Instagram of all places, I saw that Roedel Brothers is going to release a replacement dash pad for the Scout II, starting at $375 after a core fee. I’ve got two in my stash, the black one I bought ten years ago and the original green one that came with Peer Pressure. Neither is perfect, but they’re good for now and it’s nice to know new repro parts are coming onto the market.

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

Date posted: August 5, 2020 | Filed under Purchasing, Scout | Comments Off on Seats and Pads

As of today, I’ve digitized 184 albums from Rob’s collection, for a total of 39GB of music. I had to dissect the first player because I could not get the motor to work for love or money; it just sits and makes a screeching noise and no amount of cajoling will get it working. Because the carousel spins 360˚ all the way around the unit, there are sections where plastic shields cover the CDs inside and it’s impossible to put them back in place once they’re pulled out. Rob tossed all of the plastic cases and kept the sleeves inside CD binders, but I don’t have those here, so I’ve got to find another way to store them once I’ve pulled them out. I think I’m going to find a 3/4″ dowel at the Lowe’s and build a quick spindle to store them vertically in a stack, because that’s the only way I can keep them organized once they’re out. 165 is less than half the capacity of the first unit—they take 400 discs total, and there’s another unit sitting on the floor that’s equally full.

The next chore will be to replace the duplicate files in my collection with the newer, better quality files (these are in .m4a format, which is lossy but an improved format from .mp3). I’ve got a number of incomplete albums that suffered from a strange glitch iTunes had back in 2004 where it dropped the first track on each album I ripped, so I have to find those and update them as well.

* * *

The photo project has concluded, and after a week and a half’s painstaking manual work I’ve sorted through the folder year by year to organize everything by Month/Day. This served to allay many of my fears that I’d lost entire months of photos, because of the fucked-up way iPhoto and Aperture catalogued things. As I stepped through each folder I found folders of photos that belonged in subsequent years, and as I slowly moved things to where they should be it became clear that I hadn’t lost anything. I also weeded out gigabytes of duplicate images that had been spread out among the folders, which freed up a bunch of space.

Next up is installing a small SSD boot drive in the spare slot above the DVD drive, so that I can keep all four internal slots free for data. I’m going to try to trick it to load 10.11 so that it’s running a somewhat more up to date OS. (I’m running 10.11 on a MacBook Pro through deception that is the same generation as the tower and is arguably less powerful).

Date posted: August 5, 2020 | Filed under geek, photography | Leave a Comment »

It was too damn hot to do anything serious outside over the weekend, but I thought I’d get Finn out to the junkyard for a mission. We’ve got a flip-up mirror on the visor in the CR-V that I repaired once last year (a hinge pin fell out, making the door useless) and recently the entire edge of the plastic door decided to break off to spite me. I packed a bag of metric and SAE tools, put on my boots, and took Finn down to Jessup in the Scout. I figured they would be cagey about letting kids in the yard, but she’s tall for her age, and everything about the yard is shifty, so I figured we’d act like we did this every day and walk right through. I paid my $4, wrote my name on their sign in sheet, and was almost at the door to the yard when Finley, who normally doesn’t notice her own shoes when she’s wearing them, stopped me in my tracks. “Daddy, the sign says no kids under 16 years of age,” she practically shouted, standing directly in front of the counter lady. Startled out of her waking slumber, the counter lady said, “How old are you?” and before I could reply, Finley practically shouted, “Eleven!”

After I dropped her off back at the house, I paid my $2 and walked through the yard. They had two CR-V’s, one green over tan version and one silver over black that was the spitting image of ours, minus catastrophic front-end damage. There’s a weird phenomenon with junkyard CR-V’s I’ve noticed: usually they’re missing both visors. The last time I found one for the part I needed someone had already hacked it off the mount, realized it was bent, and threw it under the seat. The Silver CR-V was wrapped liberally with plastic and sported two BIOHAZARD stickers on the back windows, which meant something unspeakable and messy had happened during the crash. Peeking inside, I found that someone had braved disease and pulled the visors off. The green CR-V was less picked over and still had its visor, but because the interior was tan, I decided not to pay $10 for mismatched plastic.

The rest of the yard was pretty boring; the oldest and most interesting vehicle was a mid-70’s Ford wagon the size of a small container ship. Kids, I’m old enough to remember when the roads were covered with these barges.

There was also this red MR2 beached on blocks minus its 4A-GE engine; I wondered how anyone would donate such a rare and valuable beast until I saw the rust around the rockers and rear quarters. It was sprinkled inside and out with a decade’s worth of pine needles, and those tires haven’t held air since the first Bush administration. Still, as a cheap-ass trackday car, I was surprised someone wasn’t dragging it out by the bumper.

* * *

I racked the beer into the secondary carboy on Sunday, and it smells really good. About three inches of hops were at the bottom by the time I was done, so I threw those in the composter with our coffee grounds and eggshells. Now I wait two weeks before dry-hopping the batch, and then there’s another week before it goes into the keg. It would be great to have something I like on tap because I’m probably spending too much on six-packs of craft beer.

 

Date posted: August 3, 2020 | Filed under brewing, cars, honda | Leave a Comment »

Finn and I stood on line outside the MVA office for 45 minutes in the “appointment” line two Mondays ago. It’s been in the high 90’s here through July and with humidity, the temperatures are in the mid 100’s. There were actually two lines on the concrete sidewalk: “appointment” and “drop-off”. Because there is a limit to the number of people allowed in the building, we all had to wait outside in the heat until the people ahead of us came out. The MVA staff helpfully put up a square awning outside the front door over the “dropoff” line, which was moving much faster than our line, so the net result was that we in the “plan ahead” line stood around and baked in the sun until they could let us in.

My intention has been to swap out the modern Historic plates I’ve currently got on the Scout for a set of vintage plates from 1976, the year the truck was made. I’d found a set at the antique store down the street and got them cheap, and around the time I was ready to go in and do battle with the MVA, the pandemic hit. So I waited until the numbers went down and they opened up on the restricted schedule.

Once we were inside, we had to wait the normal amount of time for the glacial staff to sort out our issues, so even though we had an appointment nothing was different from a normal visit. Finn and I waited a full hour before we were called up to the counter, and when I explained what I was doing—and showed her the proper form, filled out months in advance—she had no idea how to accomplish this mysterious task and told us to sit back down while she asked someone. She called her manager, who called someone else, explained it to the woman I spoke to, and then disappeared for lunch. In the meantime the obnoxious dude who had been standing behind us outside was called up to the counter next, and his wife proceeded to leisurely fill out all her paperwork while standing at the window for the next 45 minutes.

When that was done, I was called back up a full 2 1/2 hours after my appointment time, and the woman put my old tags in the system and voided them, then entered the new (vintage) tags. The system didn’t spit out a sticker, however, so they had to cancel the void on the original tags and told me I would have to drive around with the original Historic plate in the glove box, as the truck is technically registered to those tags (but for some reason they charged me $70 for vanity plates)?

I have no fucking idea what they did or if it’s the right thing, but I went home and put the new (vintage) plates on the truck. Hopefully I don’t get pulled over and impounded for having the wrong plates on the right truck.

They sure do look pretty, though.

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

Date posted: August 1, 2020 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Plated

This is worth playing and listening to in its entirety (transcript here). A moving tribute to a giant of a man, a message to the current fascist in charge, and a challenge presented to Biden if he can succeed in gaining the presidency.

Date posted: July 31, 2020 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

I was on a work call other day talking about infographics, and one of my colleagues in London sent a link in the chat to an article called 40 of the Best Infographics to Inspire You. As I scrolled down I was shocked and flattered to see the the first example was one I did for WRI back in 2014 when longform infographics were all the rage, something I sweated over with the Climate team for weeks until we got it right.

Date posted: July 31, 2020 | Filed under WRI | Leave a Comment »

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I set up a table and a stove in the shady part of the backyard to brew a new batch of beer on Sunday, knowing it was going to get hot out there. The brew went smoothly, and because I was using the original stainless kettle I’d started with 15+ years ago, the batch smelled and tasted better than the last two I’d cooked in aluminum pots. This one is called Kama Citra, and it took a metric ton of hops during the boil—it smelled so good—and after it gets racked into the secondary fermenter it will get another two ounces of hops to finish.

I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’ll have to dump the bock in the kegerator out, as I just can’t bring myself to drink it due to the taste.

* * *

The new washer in the basement is happily cranking away on our clothes. There was a frightening couple of days where it was looking like we weren’t going to get something delivered until the middle of August, but I got lucky with a Lowe’s CSR who absolutely worked the system, found me a washer available locally, and had it delivered the next day. Jen says it’s much larger than our HE front-loader and seems to be washing clothes better.

Date posted: July 29, 2020 | Filed under appliances, brewing | Leave a Comment »

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There’s an International dealership down the road from me in Ellicott City that I’ve been aware of since I was in college, and back in the days when I was sourcing parts for Chewbacca I bought some parts from a guy that worked there, including a windshield that still sits in my garage. From the grapevine I’d heard that he got out of the biz after the first EC flood came through and wiped out his parts stash, but apparently he’s still hauling rusty junk out of the woods. A few weeks ago I saw a post on Craigslist for a travel top and some other parts on a junker and realized it was parked up behind the dealership, and this morning I thought I’d go take a look at it on a quiet Sunday morning. The truck is still there, and hasn’t changed since the post went up. It’s a crusty 1980 Diesel from Arizona missing both front fenders, but it looks like there might be some decent interior parts left, including a three-piece rollbar that looks like it would reach further back than the one in Peer Pressure.

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He’s got some other rigs parked up there as well, including this ’78 that gets worse the closer you stand to it. I’ve never see two front fenders rust out like that; I have no idea what the cause might be.

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There’s also this 1980 with the letters GMS printed on the side; Bennett tells me it stands for Green Machine Sport, which was a special package made that year to dress things up. This one is in about the same condition as the white Scout on the rollback, but at least all the parts are there.

I don’t know what he’s planning on doing with these. I reached out to him via Messenger to inquire about the rollbar, and he says he probably has plans for it, but he’d let me know if he was going to sell it. So we’ll see.

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

Date posted: July 29, 2020 | Filed under Purchasing, Scout, Sightings | Comments Off on Graveyard

Along with a fancy camera, there’s another tool that’s equally important for any photographer: photo processing software. In my early days of shooting I used Photoshop exclusively, and fixed and saved photos one at a time. In the mid 200’s, Apple and Adobe came out with products that were designed to catalog and process photos in batches, so that a photographer could download a couple hundred shots from a camera and quickly browse through them all for the best picks.

Apple’s Aperture was a great product during the years they supported it. From a UI/UX standpoint, it was incredibly intuitive to use as a beginner, and only offered tools as the user gained experience. I used it happily and built several fast, powerful workflows to process photos—especially handy when I was shooting daily. It was discontinued in 2015 and I used it for several years afterward until I was forced to switch to Lightroom. I had nothing but praise for the frontend of the application, but but the filing job it did behind the scenes was so fucked up I’m only now digging out of the hole it put me in.

Two weeks ago I bought an enormous 8TB NAS drive for our basement server and consolidated all of our photos to the new drive. This included an existing 4TB photo drive and two external drives I’ve had bumping around my desk for three years (shame on me). Most of that work involves manually moving photos into properly organized folders. This is, in practice, as boring as it sounds, and should have been done years ago.

See, the way that Aperture did things for a while was to dump photos into a dated folder not based on the date the batch was taken but the date it was imported. Sometimes it split photos up, out of order, and put them into subfolders with long date-stamped names—sometimes 30 or more folders in one main folder, and most often empty. Later, after an update, it stuck random photos in successively named folders called “Roll XXX”, with no connection to date or batch.

What I want is to catalog photos by each year, month, and day they were taken so that I can see a photo from a particular batch without depending on photo processing software, and so that I can tell immediately if I’ve got multiple copies of a photo on the same drive (something else Aperture liked to do). There were a couple of cases where I had five or six copies of the same batch of photos for no reason.

So, I’m going through each year’s folder and splitting out the months and days and re-filing everything, and it’s taking forever and giving me carpal tunnel syndrome as well as a satisfying sense of accomplishment, because when this is done, I’ll have a real sense of what’s here and what’s missing—and then I can go and look for the missing files in my binders of DVD backups.

Date posted: July 28, 2020 | Filed under apple, photography | Leave a Comment »

There are reddening tomatoes out in the greenhouse! The cherries are beginning to ripen, and there are scores of them across all of the tubs. There’s one plant that has 15 cherries in one cluster, which is pretty amazing. The larger tomatoes are also coming in strong, although there’s one that is still producing blossom end rot; I’ve got to look into the application instructions for the fertilizer I bought and see how often I’m supposed to amend the soil (or, just buy some calcium and add it directly). I think the weeks of high temperatures and humidity really kicked them all into overdrive, and I’ve been faithfully watering and pruning the plants every morning after Hazel’s walk.

One thing I need to understand for next year’s crop is how to prune them all back vertically so that they produce horizontally and with more density. I suspect Jen’s suggestion that they’re getting tall because they’re not getting enough direct light is true, but I can’t move them outside without losing them to critters. I’m also going to prune one of the boughs of the oak tree back to bring more light in earlier in the day. And finally, I want to both expand the number of tubs we’re planting in (an entire second row along the south wall) and the variety of plants. Next year I want several varieties of cherries—yellow and black did really well last year—as well as several full-size varieties. Oaxacas, Dagmas, and Paul Robesons grew pretty well in 2018 but I don’t have any seed for them, so I’ll have to figure out where I can get some different varieties and be prepared for 2021.

* * *

As of today I’ve got about 120 CD’s digitized from Rob’s collection. I had to open the top of the first case to access the carousel inside, but I can’t figure out what the grinding noise is or where it’s coming from, and no amount of futzing with the innards will free it up. This sucks because I can’t access roughly half of the CDs based on where they are in the carousel—unless I pull a bunch of them out, and I don’t have Rob’s CD binders to file things away in, and I don’t want to have giant leaning piles of CDs all over the place. More research is required, but given that it’s a Sony product, and because I’ve only ever had bad experiences with Sony A/V gear, I’m not optimistic.

 

Date posted: July 25, 2020 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »