When we were at Costco buying Mom the Biggest TV In The Store, we happened upon a bin full of big, beautiful Christmas wreaths, the same ones I helped her hang on the outside of her garage. They festived up her whole damn house, so I thought I’d get a pair for our house too. Today the weather got up slightly above freezing so I climbed out on the roof with a screw gun and hung both of them up between the second story windows. The results were a little less festive than I was hoping for.

Maybe with some Eat At Joe’s lights on the gutters and fake candles in the window, it’ll look better.

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

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This picture of a pie on fresh snowfall represents the only pictures I took the whole time I was in New York; I completely failed to pull my camera out for anything else other than taking a picture of the login details on Mom’s FIOS router. We had a great time; Finn and I drove up while Jen stayed home with the dog, and Renie cooked dinner for the family at her place. We had a delicious smoked turkey with stuffing, potatoes, peas, and cranberry sauce. Then we all rolled in to the living room and napped in front of the football games while Keighty wandered in and out of the room looking for leftovers on the floor.

The rest of the weekend was super quiet. We stuck around Mom’s house and hung out, mostly, until we decided the backlight on her TV was going out, and drove out to Costco to buy her a new one for Christmas. It took Renie and I only about an hour to get a new mount installed on the wall and the TV hung, and All Was Right With The World. There was a re-awakening of Dungeons & Dragons to keep Finn occupied, and I led she and Renie around The Keep on the Borderlands slaying goblins until their characters were almost dead.

It was blowing light snow for the last two days we were there, which was a nice way to usher in winter, even if it made the first hour of our drive south wet and messy. But we got on the road early and got home with no problems. The CR-V took us 700+ miles with no problems, and is now at the garage getting long-needed work done to the front struts. The front end was  sounding more and more like a NYC taxi every day; this is an expensive repair but one that will hopefully keep the old girl on the road a while longer. Sometime early in the New Year she’ll go back in for new control arms and bushings, but that’s another paycheck away.

Date posted: November 29, 2021 | Filed under photo | Leave a Comment »

I got a little burned out on playing the Division 2 last week, so I pulled the disc out of my Xbox and put Fallout 76 in, for the first time in months. It took a little time to get used to the controls again, and get my bearings for where I was and what I was doing. I looked around the map, did a little exploring, and shot some bad guys. And I was bored. I left the game when I realized my style of gameplay was holding me back and that if I wanted to advance further I’d have to go spend hours searching for stuff to build more powerful weapons and armor, running to and from areas on the map and completing missions I’d already done. Jumping back in, I quickly remembered why I’d stopped and it held even less interest for me now than it did before.

The Fallout series got me through chemo and some cold dark winter months last year, and for that I’m grateful, but I don’t think I need to go back again. It looks like I might be hunting for a new game to play soon.

Date posted: November 23, 2021 | Filed under geek | Leave a Comment »

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Saturday morning the family rose, grabbed a quick meal, and put on warm clothes so that we could help organize and distribute Thanksgiving meals for a church in our neighborhood. As part of the food drive we did a couple of weeks ago, our church partners with others to collect and donate food, and we signed up for another morning of service. We parked front of a long line of idling cars, then walked to the back of the church house where tables were set up and people were busily building boxes of cans and bags of dry goods. Jen and Finn dove into the tent and got to work, and I made myself useful at a pile of boxes along the driveway, stacking and moving things from one place to the next. When the cars started coming in, we all hustled to fill them with food. It was a bit chaotic at the beginning, but the joyful congregation and good cheer kept the mood light and the work easy. The last of 200 turkeys was loaded in a car at 10:40, and the final car drove through at 11:30. We helped clean up as much as we possibly could, then had a slice of homemade cake and some hot chocolate and said our good-byes, happy we’d been able to do some good.

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I headed over the bridge on Sunday morning to put a day’s worth of work in on the schoolbus, which has been sitting patiently in the shed since we stopped work in October. The first job was to unpack the bench seats and do a test fitting to see how they looked. We unpacked one and set it up on the floor of the garage, finally figuring out how the folding mechanism worked so that we could convert it into a seat (they ship flat). We used an angle grinder to take a third folding section of the bed off the back—there isn’t enough room to include it, and they don’t need it with the way we’re organizing the space. Then we hauled it into the bus and sat it in place, making some test holes to figure out where the seat bases will land. When that was done we unpacked the single seat and put that in place to test the pass-through space. It’ll be tight, but it should work.

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Repacking the seats, we sanded the high edges of the floor down, put about a thousand flooring nails in place, and applied leveling mud to the surface to smooth it all out. By the time that dried it was getting dark, so we set up a light and got to work laying floor tile. We started up front and worked our way back, and with Brian prepping the floor and laying tile and me cutting tiles to fit, we cranked it out pretty quickly. Even so, by the time we finished it was 7:30 and while he cleaned up the surface I ran around and threw all the tools in the truck. We then had a minor hiccup when the battery on the bus decided it was too weak to turn the motor over, so we found some jumper cables and started it from Brian’s truck. It was 8PM when we left Rock Hall and 9:30 by the time I made it home to the girls.

Meanwhile, Jen had been at the ER with Hazel for four hours, who had been acting strangely all morning. They were swamped so it took a long time to be seen, but when she was examined and an X-ray was taken, it turned out she is backed up worse than the Long Beach dockyards. They did some, uh, work to help the situation but it’s going to take more long walks and some time to clear out her pipes. So she’s moping around the house with her bonnet and a disturbed look on her face. Here’s to hoping the deliveries start back up again.

Date posted: November 22, 2021 | Filed under family, friends, hazel | 1 Comment »

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I’ve been getting to sleep at 9PM for the past couple of days in an effort to get over this cold. This morning was the first time I woke up with a clearer head and sinus system, although the tickle in my throat is still present. Another day of cold medicine and hot tea, and another good evening’s rest and I think I might be able to kick this thing. I don’t want to bring a cold up to Mom’s house for the holiday, and I would like to get some work done on the bus this weekend. Plus the family is volunteering for another food drive tomorrow morning, and I want to give 100% while I’m there.

It was 70˚ yesterday before the storm blew through so I took a quick break at lunchtime to hose the used CR-V floor mat down with Simple Green and blast it with the pressure washer. It’s definitely cleaner, but the smell of that car air freshener stuff is still present. I think it’s going to sit outside for a couple of weeks to let the air and UV rays burn off the smell, I’ll wait for another warm day and try this trick, and then it should be ready for the car.

Date posted: November 19, 2021 | Filed under general, photo | Leave a Comment »

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Well, it looks like the time I spent wet and shivering in a field in Pennsylvania translated itself into a head cold. I’m taking some Dayquil to knock the cough and runny nose back, and that seems to be holding things at bay for now. I’m going to try to get into bed and get as much rest as I can through the weekend so that I can get better before we head to Mom’s house for Turkey Day.

Hazel is back to wearing the Bonnet of Shame for a while; we were lightening the medication for her allergies but her ears started scabbing up and bleeding again (and itching, which meant she was scratching and shaking her head even more) so we ramped the dose back up again. She’s a pitiful sight; she skulks around like we’ve been beating her with broom handles every day of her life. I feel terrible for her, but it’s either this or she sprays blood all over the house. And I’m not having that.

Date posted: November 16, 2021 | Filed under hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »

On FBM earlier this week an ad went up offering several International D-series trucks and one sad Scout, warning that they would only be there until the weekend and then they’d go to the crusher. I reached out to the guy asking for some details and better pics of the Scout, and he and Bennett and I traded some messages until Friday, when he told us he’d dropped them off at his local pick and pull lot because the County was after him. Bennett and I hatched a rescue mission after my original plans for the weekend fell through, and today we made the trip.

The northern part of Maryland is absolutely beautiful this weekend, and the ride was relatively short to boot. The weather forecast called for rain in the afternoon so I repacked my tools in the CR-V. We were on the road by 7:30 and made it to the field an hour later.

The rigs were all crowded around the bottom of the intake area next to the crusher. After talking with the yard folks we carried some tools inside, waited for them to move things with a huge forkloader, and started picking. There were 4 D series trucks for Bennett to choose from: a flatbed, a pickup, a cab with no bed, and a bed with no cab. The most desirable piece from any of the trucks, a D Series hood in immaculate shape, had been removed and lay under the chopped cab on the floor of the flatbed—ouch. Bennett set to work freeing the only good fender on any of the trucks while I set to work pulling the grille from the Scout.

The Scout looked better in the photos (they always do) but had been crunched in the tailgate, leaving little good sheetmetal to pick from. The doors were trashed, the fenders were shot, and the traveltop, which looked clean in the pics, was too crusty to save (I had been thinking about how I could get it off and get it home if it had been in good shape). Most of the interior bits I’ve already got, and these were all Bordello Red to boot. Maybe the original radio would have been smart to grab, or the dashpad. I’ve got two A/C units now so I don’t need another. And there wasn’t enough time to break the doors down, although the hinge on the driver’s side broke as I tried to open it.

At about 11AM rainclouds rolled in and we spent an hour in a miserable downpour, covering our tools with tarps and trying to stay out of the muddy water running down the hill in rivulets.  All of the bolts on the grille came off with little effort save two that were too rusted to secure with a pair of vice-grips. I borrowed a sawzall from the yard guys and chopped at the bolts until I could pound a smaller socket on them to grab. With those off, the whole piece came off cleanly with two of the three chrome trim rings and both headlight surrounds.

I got a clean passenger’s side fiberglas top insert (both of mine have been split on the bottom to get around the rollbar), two tailgate latch assemblies, a pile of steel marker lights, one good rear taillight bucket, two horns, a pile of emblems, and other miscellania. I forgot to grab the traveltop bolts over the windshield. It would have taken another couple of hours to grab other good things—the fan shroud (the rest of the engine looked like it had been soaking in salt water for a decade), the seat bases, gauges, switchgear, and steering wheel.

Bennett made out with a good driver’s fender, a pile of hubcaps, trim rings, side trim and other emblems, two hubs, IH-branded cab lights and side mirrors, and a pile of other stuff. If we weren’t cold, wet and hungry we could have stuck it out for another couple of hours, but we were all of those things and we are old. Up in the lot he was able to get a replacement taillight for his CR-V, and in the same car we found a Honda-branded rubber mat for the back of mine.

All told, the trip was cheap and fun, and it was great to hang out with Bennett and get dirty and not draw any blood wrenching on old rusty trucks. He’s got a line on some more near here that he’s trying to pin down, and if he can, another trip will be in the works.

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

Date posted: November 13, 2021 | Filed under Junkyards, Purchasing, Scout | Comments Off on Fresh Grille

I’ve written about my grandfather’s brother, Tom Dugan before, and mentioned his experience as a sailor on the USS Borie in World War II. The Borie was a WW I era destroyer pressed into service escorting convoys in the early days of the war, and it fought the most desperate and close-quarters battle with a U-Boat I’ve ever heard of. The History Guy does a good job of finding stories like this to feature, and he just released this video explaining the battle.

Date posted: November 11, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

I opened a document in InDesign this afternoon and was greeted with an alert that says Adobe is not supporting Type 1 fonts after December of 2023 (and Photoshop after December of 2021). Type 1 fonts are the OG PostScript fonts that date back to the earliest B/W Macs and laser printers; woe be unto the designer who didn’t package their fonts with their print job. In the early days fonts were hoarded jealously by any designer worth their salt—expensive, trendy, and sometimes impossible to categorize. I have a bootleg CD-R given to me by a friend, containing a big design studio’s collection organized roughly into typographer’s classifications by (I assume) some poor intern in 1999 or so. 80% of those fonts are Type 1, I’d guess. I made an effort to convert them all to OpenType using a commercial program in 2012, so I’m not on the wrong side of technology, but I expect this is going to become An Issue in the coming year as we weed the old fonts out of our workflows. Hooray.

Date posted: November 10, 2021 | Filed under art/design | Leave a Comment »

Well, that booster shot I got yesterday laid me pretty low. I was alright yesterday but woke up feeling pretty lousy this morning and things only got worse as the day went on. I went upstairs with a fever and napped for a couple of hours in the afternoon, feeling achy and stiff. Hopefully things will settle down tomorrow and I can get back upright.

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I got a text from our friend Stephen who is downsizing some of his IH collection in preparation for moving in with his girlfriend, and he wanted to know if Bennett or I were still interested in the IH fridge we helped him move a couple of years ago. Bennett, who doesn’t have a spare square inch of empty storage in his house, passed, so it looks like it’s coming here! We’re not really using the old fridge in the garage for anything so I’m going to put that up on Craigslist and get it out of here, and then we can move the big white beast in its place. My entry from that day notes that it does work, so it’ll be a great place to store beer for wrenching weekends.

Date posted: November 9, 2021 | Filed under house, photo | Leave a Comment »