I had time to myself today, so I went out to try and solve the mystery of the dead lightbulb behind my heater controls. Now that I actually have heat it would be nice to see what the controls say; at one time I knew exactly how they worked by muscle memory, but that was in the days of Chewbacca and I got the heat in this Scout working only recently. To get to the one bulb on top of the control box I found it easiest to pull the fascia plate off the dashboard and with it the radio; this is the best way of getting back there without cutting a hole in the firewall and going in from the back. The bulb installed was weird, in that it has two wires going in and was zip-tied in place at some point. All three of the spare dashboards I own have one wire and no zip-tie. Additionally strange is that this bulb is different than all of the other bulbs in the dash: it’s a 5GE 57 bayonet (or some equivalent) so I have to source a new one from somewhere—all of the spares I own didn’t work.

On the subject of fascia plates, I’ve been thinking about dressing up the one I’ve got or replacing it, now that the rest of the cabin looks better. I own five in total, the one in the truck and these:

The chewed up green one is from the Flintstone Scout. I don’t remember where I got the woodgrain one from. The bottom two are from other rigs that I can’t remember (the good green one is left over from Chewbacca days). I’m hesitant to touch the two good ones so I’m going to see if I can use the better of the two bad ones and make a clean hole for a DIN9 receiver. That’ll be tomorrow’s project, along with sourcing the correct lightbulb.

Walking the dog through the ‘Ville today I noticed a familiar green Scout parked at my neighbor’s house. The house belongs to a nice man named Steve, who passed away a couple of years ago, but I’m still in touch with his son. I sent him an email this afternoon asking after him and to see if he needs help getting her roadworthy—the last time we traded messages he was having problems with the carb and I don’t know if he got them sorted out. I sent along info for the guy who did the brakes on PP last year, and hopefully I’ll hear back from him sometime soon.

Date posted: November 26, 2022 | Filed under friends, Repairs, Scout, Sightings | Comments Off on Lighting and Cleaning

Spurred on by an Instagram post by another Scouter/designer, I got off my ass on Tuesday and finished building out a set of Scout II grille designs I started sometime last year. I put them up on Wednesday and got the highest number of likes on any post all year. It hasn’t translated to millions yet, but I’m hopeful that when I post the second set—Scout 80/800 grilles—I’ll get some more eyeballs, and maybe some more sales.

Date posted: November 24, 2022 | Filed under design, Scout | Comments Off on Commerce

Thanksgiving morning is here, and this is the first year in a long time that we’re not with family. Finn started with a cold early last week and coughed on Jen several times; this developed into COVID, which was helpfully confirmed by a note from the school two days after we quarantined Finn. Thanks for that speedy notification, guys. They’ve both been squirreled away in separate bedrooms since last Thursday, depending on Captain Chaos here to keep them fed. Overall it’s been OK; Finn seems to be on the mend  but Jen lost her sense of taste and smell several days ago and keeps spiking a fever, so there’s no end in sight for her. I’ve been running up and down the stairs and washing my hands constantly trying to avoid the ‘Rona again—we’ve all been boosted, but ‘Rona don’t care—hopefully at least Finn can join me today for a Thanksgiving feast downstairs.

I’ve cooked many a turkey dinner myself over the years, starting in 1996 when I’d bought my house in Canton, but I had no desire to do it this year. Wisely I punted and ordered a dinner for 4 from the restaurant down the street where we get coffee and breakfast. It’s all packed neatly in the IH fridge in the garage waiting to be heated and served. Running errands yesterday, I stumbled upon two 12-packs of Founder’s All-Day Hazy IPA, something I’ve only seen once before. I drink their regular All-Day, well, regularly, but this is only made in small batches so it’s wise to jump on when you see it. I hemmed and hawed and then bought the only two cases they had, feeling smug with myself.

With the spare time I had at the end of the day Tuesday, I finally got off my ass and did something with some designs I’d built last year: I put up ten Scout shirt designs on Threadless, announced it through Instagram, and pointed it back to the Old Line State Binders site I’ve had live for a year but never done anything with. The legalities of using the IH logo are tricky, and I don’t want to make anyone mad, so I’m not using it or the logo script anywhere. I’ve been nervous about sharing these but I figure what the hell; I’m not doing anything else with them and it’s about time they made me a little money. I’ve made a couple of orders already; we’ll see if anything happens. Now that I’ve begun, I’ve got some ideas for other shirts in the works.

Update 5PM: Finn is officially clear, but Jen is still positive. We busted into our premade holiday meal and everyone demolished their plates; the only thing that went untouched was something called “sauerkraut with apples”, which smelled about as bad as you might imagine from that description.

Date posted: November 24, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

HOLY SHIT.

LEGO is selling a modern-day version of the Galaxy Explorer, possibly the best original LEGO Space kit they made. This one:

Galaxy Explorer completed

The OG space minifigs were red and white for the first iteration of the Space kits; when LEGO realized they had a hit on their hands they changed them to blue, which is what most people recognize. PUMP THIS DIRECTLY INTO MY VEINS.

Date posted: November 21, 2022 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

I’ve had the groove from Ocean Size by Jane’s Addiction stuck in my head for several days now.

I like watching this video and remembering how weird and exciting they looked and sounded in ’88, when I showed this to some of my high school friends. This album got me out of hair metal and into a whole new world.

Date posted: November 20, 2022 | Filed under music | Leave a Comment »

I took the Scout out for a quick errand yesterday with Hazel to go pick up some dinner, and a small voice in the back of my head reminded me that I needed to get some gas. I’d already been to the other side of town to hit the dump earlier in the day, but our trip wasn’t that far and from what my mileage booklet said, I’d only gone thirty miles or so since my last visit to the pump.

I drove down the big hill from home into Ellicott City and just as I hit the bottom part of the road along the river, the truck died and I coasted to a stop on the shoulder. Hazel looked over at me from the passenger seat with reproach, then curled up on the seat and sighed. This is the second time this has happened at the foot of the hill—the first time it died pulling into the gas station a little further up the road—but it’s a warning I’m going to heed. I’m terrified of losing power going down that hill, and even though I know I could use the clutch to engine brake until a stop, when the steering goes out it’s like piloting an oil tanker. I’m terrified of digging in to the wiring behind the dashboard for fear the truck will never start again but the gauge situation and the wiper issue are now forcing my hand.

In the meantime I’m going to revise my mileage tracker to give me a better estimate of what my MPG actually is; my records show that I went down to empty in October of last year, which means I can use that and the records up until now to give me a better understanding of what my range is. Doing the math between now and then, I put 2887 miles on the truck, which converts to 3280 true miles (the ratio is 88 indicated to 100 true). I’ve put 296 gallons of gas into her between now and then, which works out to 11.08 miles per gallon. Not as good as Chewbacca did—Chewbacca was a 304 with a 2-barrel Holley 2100 carburetor and stock wheels, and she averaged anywhere from 12 to 14 depending on the type of driving and whether the top was down or not. Peer Pressure is a 345 with a 4-barrel Thermoquad on 32’s, and while I don’t spend my time racing from streetlight to streetlight, a 4-barrel is a lot thirstier. Also, all of the stupid emissions bullshit tacked on to my engine surely isn’t helping. To put things into perspective, my Jeep XJ with a 4-liter V6 got about 14mpg on average—keeping in mind the curb weight of the XJ was a full thousand pounds less than either Scout.

I’ve always figured no better than 10MPG as a rule of thumb, using my experience with Chewbacca’s low end and figuring 1-2MPG as a cushion was a good idea, but knowing exactly what my range is will help estimate even better. And there will be some digging around behind the dashboard come springtime: First, to hopefully diagnose and repair the gas gauge, and second to find the issue with the wipers and fix that.

Date posted: November 20, 2022 | Filed under Scout, To-Do List | Comments Off on On Fumes

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m getting tired of my latest video game. I’ve been playing The Division 2 for several years now, and I’ve replayed parts of it enough that I’m bored with the challenge. So now I have to find another game, something I find very difficult, because I don’t fit the mold of the average player. Most games are set up for online multiplayer and structured so that you can’t go very far without buying extra shit in-game. I like solo games with a good story that I can do on my own; I don’t want to deal with a league or a clan or scheduling gameplay—the majority of my life is ruled by a calendar and I spend enough time on virtual calls; I don’t need to be in another one during my time off, especially not with a bunch of trash-talking fifteen year olds. And fuck any game that demands I buy better gear to advance; I have enough trouble convincing Finn that she shouldn’t spend $10 on an iridescent dragon skin for her Roblox character.

So the hunt is on. I’ve bought a couple of video games that looked good and got great reviews. They start out, like most video games do, in some kind of tutorial. Sometimes these are set up as virtual shooting ranges, and other times, with more clever games, they get you into the action up front but carefully introduce you to harder and harder things so that you can gradually build up your skills. I’ve had several games do very well at slowly ramping the difficulty up so that I wasn’t aware the game had started; the original Halo did this, and Fallout 4 did this very well. Which was important: Halo starts out as one game and somewhere in the middle goes to WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING but by then you’ve developed enough skill through gameplay to pivot to that new tempo. As a result, I played these games a lot. Hours and hours of them. Other games will start out with a tutorial and get you into some gameplay and there’s a gentle ramp-up and then suddenly WHAM they throw five mini-bosses at you with nuclear weapons, but you’re still a fluffy bunny hopping through the meadow and BOOM you’re dead.

I’m not saying I want all games to coddle me like a newborn faun; I just want them to slowly introduce me to their concepts of gameplay instead of throwing three new types of enemies at me while simultaneously sending wave after wave of grunts behind them. Game AI is a tricky thing to code, and everybody does it differently. Some games are built so that the bad guys will run around and try to flank you; The Division does this very well, and it took me a while to develop strategies for this. (I’m terrible at PVP combat, which is basically running around as fast as you can shooting at whoever is in front of you; I have terrible virtual situational awareness in these situations, and so I usually just die.)  When games let me figure it out gradually, I enjoy them a lot more.

Other games will do the surprise gotcha thing where you walk through an empty corridor or alley that has no doors or means of entrance, get to the end where there’s a locked door, and suddenly thirty bad guys have beamed in behind you to smoke you while you’re trapped. When you’re used to this bullshit gameplay you can anticipate it, but the first thirty times or so it’s annoying.

Most games these days have introduced huge complicated tiering systems for customizing weapons and gear. Some people get off on spending more time tweaking their machine gun or sword than they do shooting or slicing; hooray for them. I prefer to get in to the game, shoot the crap out of something, and bounce. But to advance in the game you have to dive into these systems or you wind up as the guy with a pocket knife going up against a roomful of Navy SEALS, which ends predictably. One thing I’ve found about all of these systems is that even when the good games teach you how to shoot and play the game, they do nothing to teach you how to use these customization systems. And most of them are more complicated than nuclear physics. Typically you can break down stuff you have to make other stuff better, but they don’t tell you the rules; thus you go and disassemble something really good only to find you did it wrong and now you can’t use any of it. The choice then is to wade through hours of annoying YouTube videos just to learn how you did that one thing wrong, or go have another beer. Against increasingly difficult gameplay I resisted this in Fallout 76 and The Division 2 for as long as I could; I tried and gave up on the former but did relatively well in the latter as a solo player.

Some games are more like moving cutscreens. I bought a cheap copy of the new Tomb Raider a year ago and made it through about the first half hour of gameplay before giving up on it forever. I like immersive gameplay, where I’m in the world and things are happening, and I can react to them and move on. Tomb Raider is about moving from one thing to the next, dying quickly, and redoing that thing over and over again until you do exactly whatever the game designer wants you to do. Laura Croft died about a hundred times until I was fed up, and then I deleted it from my Xbox. I can still hear her screams of agony. Call of Duty Advanced Warfare felt like nothing but one big masturbatory cutscreen; I stopped playing that one after about a half an hour. When the computer continually takes control of my character and shows me doing things instead of letting me play the game, I’m out.

And some games just kind of suck. Red Dead Redemption, a game people raved about Back In The Day, got shitcanned after I couldn’t finish a fucking timed horse race. Yeah yeah, I should be able to ride a horse, but the mechanics sucked and I got fed up quickly. It’s also 12 years old, so my expectations weren’t high when I got it at the thrift store for $2.

The latest game I bought is one called Titanfall, which was $1.50 on Amazon used, and featured a big mech on the cover blowing stuff up. Sweet, I thought; mech games are fun. Run around in a big robot and blow shit up. I loaded all 20GB of it up and started playing the tutorial as…a human. It took me a good hour of gameplay to even get the mech powered up, and then I used it for about three minutes before the game made me dismount and run around as a vulnerable fleshbag again flipping switches. Then I was faced with a standoff scenario, where the game designer locked my fleshbag in a room with about thirty NPCs and a bunch of exploding beach balls that I couldn’t kill fast enough. I’m supposed to be able to clear the room and then get to my mech, but after about twenty attempts over two days I gave it up in frustration, because they never showed me those things before, I don’t have the right weapons, and they don’t make the right weapons available to me. I can see why it was $1.50 now. It’s worth about $.75.

So the hunt is on; I think for the time being I’m going to step back and play some Fallout 4 until a new interesting game shows up on Amazon used for pocket change, and I’ll give that a try.

Date posted: November 19, 2022 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

In today’s day and age, it’s nice to see rich white crooks going to jail. Elizebeth Holmes, the crook who swindled millions from other rich people, was sentenced to 11 years in the slammer.

Her partner Billy Evans, in his sentencing memo to the court, told the judge that he fears for “a future in which my son grows up with a relationship with his mother on the other side of glass armed by guards”.

Yup, nobody wants that, but it happens every day to non-white people in America who don’t have the casual ability to just drop out of Stanford to start a company and defraud investors.

Date posted: November 18, 2022 | Filed under money, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’m not a farmer, but I come from a family of farmers; my Dad graduated from the agriculture program at Cornell by shoveling horse manure between classes. One of my subscribed YouTube channels featured a segment this spring where they revived an abandoned tractor and a bunch of planting equipment and put corn in on their fields in Iowa. Well, it’s harvest time, so they dragged a 50-year-old combine out of a barn and brought it all in. Mechanical equipment like this is fascinating to me; luckily they chose to use a combine that ran two years ago instead of trying to refurbish a completely broken-down unit, so things went smoothly.

* * *

I picked up some inexpensive watch bands from an outfit called cheapestnatostraps, and finally found a strap that makes my Vaer diver look better. The straps it shipped with are pretty garbage in terms of style: a black rubber dive band that takes cues from the crappy rubber bands of the 60’s, and a thick nylon band in a khaki-adjacent color that never felt right and didn’t look very good. I got a leather NATO strap in a medium tan that pairs well with the face, and after trimming about 3/4″ from the end with an X-Acto it fits perfectly. They’re currently out of the color I really want, a darker distressed brown, but this will do nicely until that comes back in.

* * *

I’ve been playing with different way of brewing coffee for the past couple of weeks, and I haven’t found the right science yet.  At the risk of sounding like an insufferable coffee asshole, I’m trying pourover with some French paper filters, and so far the results haven’t been that great. I’m looking to get a better flavor than the dishwater a French press has been providing, even though I’m paying a premium for good beans, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m using a plastic funnel in place of a $50 Chemex coffeemaker, but it might be that I need better filters. I did learn that my water wasn’t hot enough and that I need to let the funnel breathe as I pour; next I’ve got to grind the beans differently. More experimentation is required. 

 

Date posted: November 18, 2022 | Filed under entertainment | Leave a Comment »

This is genius, and drives a point home using a literal cartoon character: Can you tell who said each of these phrases, Elon Musk or Mr. Burns, the villainous billionaire from the Simpsons? I got 75%.

Seriously, I don’t understand what is going on over there. It’s like they let the kindergarten bully run the whole school.

Date posted: November 16, 2022 | Filed under humor | Leave a Comment »