Date posted: November 11, 2010 | Filed under finn | Leave a Comment »

This morning I pulled the tarp off of Peer Pressure and made ready to driver her to work; the weather is perfect, clear and 60° so I was excited to get behind the wheel. I popped the hood, connected the battery, got one reluctant crank out of the battery, and… nothing. It looks like the $70 Pep Boys Special is dead—this after only seven months. I’ve stored it with the hot lead disconnected since parking it, so I know it’s not a short; it’s got to be either the battery or the alternator. So I’m going to try to replace the battery this evening and we’ll see if this one lasts any longer.

Update: The battery tests fine on the machine at the parts store; after some futzing with the terminals she fired right up. I left the cables connected to the battery over the weekend and she started immediately on Monday morning, which leads me to believe it’s the cables themselves.

Date posted: November 11, 2010 | Filed under Purchasing, Repairs | Comments Off on Battery Blues.

Daylight savings isn’t usually an ass-kicker for this long, but when a 2-year-old dictates the household sleep schedule the amount of suffering can be measured in weeks.

We have a twin bed in Finn’s room ready for when she graduates out of the crib, and when she caught a head cold a month back, she had problems sleeping. I propped her up on a pillow and wedged her in between me and the wall, and she was able to sleep most of the night like that. From then on, unfortunately, we got into a pattern where she’d wake from a nightmare and want to sleep in the big-girl bed (previously I would crawl into the twin and talk her back asleep from across the room) next to me. This was partially my fault, because there were several nights when I wanted to get her back asleep as quietly as possible, and also because it was very comforting to sleep next to her. The ability to soothe her back to sleep and the knowledge that she was safe and warm next to me was gratifying, and the fact that she puts off more heat than a battleship’s boiler didn’t hurt either.

We were slowly weaning off the practice up until Daylight Savings hit—I’d go in, slide under the covers on the twin, and talk her back to sleep—but now that daylight is coming earlier it’s harder to get her to go back down. If she’s in bed with me, she’ll start stirring before the sun is up, and roll around the bed sleepily knocking me with elbows and knees like a wrestler having a seizure. Soon, she’ll be sliding off the bed and pulling the covers from my shoulders, saying “I want to wake up now, Daddy,” and sometimes she pulls them off the bed completely and sometimes she rests her head on my chest, plugs her thumb in her mouth, and leans on me for a few moments until I stagger to my feet. So until her internal clock resets itself (which I predict will be sometime in late December), I’m not going to be getting a good night’s sleep.

In the meantime, I’m dragging due to (what I think is) a slight cold of some kind. Or, it could be seasonal affective disorder, or whatever it is they call “this weather/lack of sunlight-is-bumming-me-out” syndrome. I went to drawing class last night and just couldn’t make anything work besides one good charcoal drawing; everything else was out of proportion or not gelling the way I wanted it to. Overall it’s been great to go back and draw again, and I feel like I’m doing some different things with my technique which is actually making me think about painting for the first time in twenty years. Some of the other people in the class have inspired me to branch out as well, which is a welcome change.

The studio draws some very interesting people. There’s Mr. Pervert Man, an older dude with coke-bottle glasses and a perpetual scowl, who draws in a tiny sketchbook with colored pencils and has to be reminded not to touch the models every third week. He’s been there since I started attending the studio fifteen years ago. There’s Older Yoga Model, a paunchy dude who contorts himself into very interesting but very difficult poses and likes to come around and look at the drawings of himself, which isn’t creepy until he starts talking about how inspired he is to do interesting poses. There’s Full-Body-Contact Sketch Guy, who brings in a brick of charcoal and assorted abrasive materials; he spends five minutes applying large swaths of black to an unfortunate piece of paper and the rest of the evening noisily scraping it off with sandpaper. And then there’s Painter Guy, who can produce an absolutely flawless oil painting in three hours out of a kit the size of a lunchbox.

I’d like to stop and thank Mother Nature for taking the time to let me stop and enjoy the change of colors this year, as opposed to dropping her drawers after the first fall shower. The larger maples and oaks in the Ville have been in full brilliant color for two weeks now, and it makes the gradual slide into winter’s grey darkness a little easier to bear.

Date posted: November 10, 2010 | Filed under art/design, finn, general | Leave a Comment »

I’m filing this one away under Future Upgrades: Going Flash-Free on Mac OS X, and How to Cheat When You Need It, from Daring Fireball. I’ve finally belatedly made the switch from Safari to Firefox after multiple crashes and worry about unencrypted HTTP headers, and I think another timely upgrade would be disabling Flash in my browser altogether. There are things I like about Safari (most importantly the RSS subscription counter) that I’m purposely giving up for added security, given the amount of logging in I do on a daily basis. I’ve noticed that when I boot up Safari on my G5 server at the house the fan spins up and the hard drive starts spinning almost immediately—this on a system with 2GB of RAM.

Date posted: November 9, 2010 | Filed under geek, productivity | Leave a Comment »

There’s an excellent series up on the Onion AV Club site now called Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation, which goes into the history and legacy of 90’s music—starting with the author’s unapologetic love of pre-Nevermind pop music and following the sea change afterwards. The third installment, Pearl Jam, the Perils of Fame, and the Trouble With Avoiding It, does a nice job of answering my long-standing question, what ever happened to those guys, and do I really give a shit? (answer: they faded away, and no).

Date posted: November 4, 2010 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

Here’s the result of yesterday’s work on the porch: Based on the available space, we decided to ditch the washer/dryer idea, spin the shower and expand its width, and move the double sink from beneath the two front windows to the shared wall with the bedroom so that we can add a medicine cabinet and mirror. The closet in the back half remains full-size, and there’s a normal-sized door splitting the two sections aligned with the chimney. Mr. Scout shimmed and leveled the floor to get it ready for the plumber, who (hopefully) can get started before the end of the week.




Date posted: November 4, 2010 | Filed under house, porch | 2 Comments »

File this under dream job: A warbird restoration and recovery outfit was called in to fly, drag, or haul an abandoned PV-2 Harpoon air tanker off a remote California airstrip. They flew in supplies, mechanics, fluids, and tools, overhauled the critical systems on-site, then flew the plane off the strip and back to their home base. 70-year-old planes being the fickle beasts they are, it’s amazing the pilot didn’t need an extra seat for his balls.

Date posted: November 2, 2010 | Filed under shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

This is supremely creepy stuff, but fascinating. I will let that description stand on its own.
(hint: go forward to The Shining examples.)

Date posted: November 2, 2010 | Filed under entertainment, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

  1. I’m so ready to be done with shite political ads on TV, in my mailbox, and robocalls on our answering machine. If there needed to be any more compelling a reason to give up network TV and a land line completely, this would be it.
  2. I’m also ready to be done with the visual clutter of endless yard signs polluting my neighborhood.
  3. To the electioneer outside the school this morning: No, I don’t need any of your “help” telling me who to vote for; I’m not a fucking sheep. Fuck you very much, have a nice day. And my child, dressed in a pink hat, pink mittens, and purple pants, IS A GIRL.
  4. I’m sad that I as a voter in Baltimore County, don’t get to vote on the slots issue in Anne Arundel county. I know it’s inevitable, but that shit needs to stay at the racetrack, not in a mall. I will have no problem boycotting that entire stupid mazelike complex if the measure passes.
  5. Finn walked out of the gym with about six “I Voted” stickers. That kid could charm the stripes off a zebra.
  6. Good luck, Martin.

Oh, and by the way: this is brilliant. Should have been live months ago, though.

Date posted: November 2, 2010 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

Update: Here’s the current status as of this morning:


This Friday we got a big present in the driveway: a nice man dropped off a 40-yard dumpster where the Honda usually sits. I proceeded to start filling that thing up with as much crap as I could, and spent a little time on Saturday afternoon swinging a hammer at the closet in the atrium.

Atrium before demolition

There’s a lot more to show as of this evening, because Mr. Scout came by with the Big Bar and cleaned the rest of the place out–the walls are bare to the sheathing, the ceiling is down, and the floor is clear to the original tin. I’d have a picture but it was too dark to shoot in there this evening.

Atrium after demo phase 1

Upon further inspection, I think we’re going to skip the washer/dryer combo in favor of a larger stall shower and reasonably-sized entry door; many of the windows will disappear but we’re going to add skylights above to make up for their absence. And because the floor needs to be raised to level things off, we’re going to add electric radiant heat underneath to keep things warm and toasty.

Date posted: November 1, 2010 | Filed under house, projects | Leave a Comment »